Blog: Dean BestThe world's gone bananas

Dean Best | 20 April 2007

If you are a retailer here in the UK, green is without doubt the colour to be seen in as the summer season approaches. The list of initiatives by our major food retailers as each tries to outdo the other for environmental credentials goes on – and long may it do so.

The latest was an announcement this week from Sainsbury’s. The UK's third-largest supermarket will ban disposable plastic carrier bags in its stores for a single day next week. Instead it plans to give its customers bags made from 100% recycled material - which usually cost 10p - for free.

Inevitably, there are cries from sceptics that these moves are nothing more than window dressing or cynical attempts to cash in on the growing interest in green issues. They point out that there are still major problems to address, not the least of which is the vast quantity of packaging waste created by supermarkets.

So it was with vast dismay that I walked in to my local Morrisons this week to buy lunch and found that the retailer is pre-packing single bananas in cardboard bases and cellophane tops.

Take a moment to think through the ridiculousness of this. The banana by its very nature is one of the few items among Morrisons’ vast array of products that already comes packed up by Mother Nature.

When I pointed this out to the poor girl weighing up the bananas to price up bunches – a bunch of bananas still comes packaging-free – I was met with blank stares. Indeed it took her supervisor to explain to me that it was done because unpackaged, single bananas were far too untidy.

Oh yes! I can now remember my disgust last time I walked into my greengrocer and found all those bananas lying on the shelf unpackaged – it was chaos and they were crying out for the order that all that man-made plastic and cardboard brings.

I shudder to think where it will end, and am fully expecting to find my grapes individually wrapped and the bunch boxed in the latest easy-open Tetrapak.


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