A past year of “winning battles for the £2bn sector” should not mean complacency for UK packaging and films producers, Barry Turner, chairman of the recently formed Packaging and Films Association (PAFA), told guests at the association's recent AGM and annual lunch at London's Savoy.
Addressing attendees drawn largely from the newly combined Packaging and Industrial Films Association (PIFA) and Flexible Packaging Association (FPA), the md of Britton Group’s Security, Mailing and Retail business said combining the two organisations’ membership had created a “much more powerful sector lobbying body” – “vital” when not only was the sector consolidating, but also, he maintained, facing “a growing flood of greenwash” on issues ranging from continuing carrier bag tax proposals to “nimbyism over much-needed energy-from-waste facilities”.
Turner said PAFA’s membership now represents sales of £2bn, while the Association has the support of 70% of the UK film and flexible sector. However, emphasising that the aim was to “get this to 100%” to present an even stronger, unified voice to legislators, he referred to the tough trading conditions PAFA’s membership currently faces: “The business climate for our industry has been characterised by slow growth, excess capacity in a number of sectors and growing downward pressure on prices for finished products at a time of continuing high prices for raw material and unpredictable energy costs,” he said.
Contrasting this with PAFA’s “many significant wins” over the past year, Turner referred particularly to its success in securing Climate Change Agreement with DEFRA, which reportedly now enables 36 UK manufacturing sites in the sector to reclaim around £2m in rebates on Climate Change Levies in return for energy reductions. “I cannot think of many trade associations that have delivered such tangible benefits to members,” he said.
Turner also pointed to the Association’s defeat of the proposed Scottish Parliament Bill (promoted by MSP Mike Pringle), which would have taxed all plastic retailer carrier bags sold in Scotland, which he said had come after two years of continuing lobbying and presentation of evidence to the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Parliament’s Environment and Rural Development Committee.
Following the Bill’s defeat, Environment Secretary Ben Bradshaw invited PAFA and the Carrier Bag Consortium to develop, with retail customers, a voluntary code aimed at reducing the environmental impacts of bags of all materials, including paper. (This has now been signed, with targeted reductions of 25% of bag impacts by 2008).
“Despite plastic bags often being demonised as a high profile, unsightly source of waste the carriers actually only account for 0.3% of domestic waste and just 1% of litter “on the street,” Turner emphasised.
Nevertheless, PAFA believes continuing pressure for such taxes will continue, requiring the sector to continue robustly defending its “strong environmental record”.
PAFA chairman Barry Turner: “I cannot think of many trade associations that have delivered such tangible benefits to members.” BarryTurnerAGM