The EU’s Essential Requirements standard, which is intended to ensure no more packaging is used than is absolutely necessary, is not being actively enforced by most member states. Despite this Europen has reported that a large majority of packaging companies across Europe are complying with it.

This demonstrates a responsibility not always accorded to the sector by the general public and politicians and the findings deserve the widest possible dissemination.

Of course, the results do not mean that over packaging is now a thing of the past. Unfortunately, examples can still be readily found, commonly as a result of bad design. Which is why the supermarkets’ disbanding of their packaging units is at best unwelcome and at worst a travesty.

Consumer affairs editor Des King in his new monthly column reports that one outgoing member of Sainsbury’s team says design innovation has all but been put on hold in order to drive down prices further.

The first two things consumers mention when packaging is discussed is waste and ease of opening and use, both of which hinge largely on design and materials’ considerations and innovations. Less priority on these vital elements is an industry going backwards and eventually the retail chains will be forced to wake up to this.

Providing value for money is one thing, ignoring the responsibility to further the environmental credibility and usability of your packaged products is another. Supermarkets will eventually learn that, to the consumer, cheap isn’t everything.

Gerry Duggin