The European Union’s policy emphasis in the environmental field is mainly focused on climate change at the moment. Yet waste management continues to be a priority.
However, in the 1980s and 1990s, environmental NGOs convinced politicians at EU and national level that re-use of a product is almost always better than recycling. In some areas our competitors in the plastics packaging arena have turned this to good effect. They argue successfully in the marketplace that their re-usable crates are more in line with EU policy goals than corrugated trays. Their sales have expanded.
Yet empty plastic crates are returned for refilling by road transport, often over very long distances, generating needless CO2 emissions. They then require washing with hot water and chemicals to sterilize them, generating yet more CO2.
The current EU focus on climate change policy is a window of opportunity to redress the imbalance by promoting more recyclable corrugated trays over plastic crates.