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When it’s trendy to be square

If you want to save the planet turn off your central heating and stop using your car. Unfortunately, this logical doctrine is a complete anathema to at least 100% of the population!

Instead, it is far easier to pillory the packaging industry. Just look at all that waste blowing off the landfill site – all good emotional stuff and a guaranteed vote winner for politicians of any colour but, sadly, very far from reality.

In spite of all this abuse and condemnation, the packaging industry has been working away for decades to become an increasingly responsible part of society.

Although no credit is given for this effort we already know that the total tonnage of packaging sent to waste in the UK over the last five years has remained constant.

But now let us look at logistics.

Logistics equals lorries equals consumption of non-renewal resource such as diesel fuel.

So it was very heartening to see that the introduction of square cans had caused that sector to show a significant increase in volume over the last 12 months.

Square cans offer a 33% increase in packaging density in any transit load due to the avoidance of the ullage space necessarily entrained in any round container. If we can achieve a 33% decrease in lorry traffic, we will have made a very major contribution to the quality of life!

If we are truly to move forward as a civilised nation, both the specifiers and the designers of packaging must take notice, not only of environmental diktats from Brussels, but also of the day-to-day common sense approach that is necessary to preserve our quality of life.

Sustainability will then be an automatic bonus.

John Webb-Jenkins is chief executive of the Institute of Packaging.