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Archive for February, 2011

‘Suppressed’ report says cotton bags are no greener than plastic

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Cotton bags are no greener than plastic bags, according to new Government research published this week. In a report that some pundits reckon has been suppressed, the Environment Agency has found that ordinary high-density polythene (HDPE) bags used by retailers are greener than supposedly environmentally friendly ones. The long-awaited report, entitled ‘Life Assessment of Supermarket Carrier Bags’, was commissioned back in 2005 and originally scheduled for publication in 2007.

Packaging industry bodies have welcomed the report’s findings that HDPE bags are, for each use, almost 200 times less damaging to the climate than cotton bags, and have less than one third of the carbon dioxide emissions than paper bags.

The report set out to discover which of seven types of bag have the lowest environmental impact by assessing the pollution caused through extraction of raw materials, production, transportation and disposal. The figures suggest that consumers would have to use the same cotton bag every working day for a year or use paper bags at least three times before binning or recycling them in order to balance out the impact of each supermarket plastic bag.

Speaking to the Independent on Sunday, Barry Turner, Chief Executive of the Packaging And Films Association (PAFA) suggested that the Environment Agency had suppressed the report, saying, “This has dragged on and on. It was a report that could have been done relatively quickly, probably within 12 months but it has gone on for years.” He added that he would not be surprised if the report had been buried because it “didn’t give the right answers” and “doesn’t support the political thrust at the moment”.

Director General of the British Plastics Federation, Peter Davis, commented, “The BPF are very pleased to see this Government research which shows that the plastic carrier bag has strong environmental credentials. This vindicates the hard work done by PAFA and the Carrier Bag Consortium to put over the real facts on the environmental benefits of plastic carrier bags. We hope this will now transform the debate to less of a knee-jerk reaction to a debate based on sound science and facts.”

Boris creates cultural diary for London

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Flamboyant London Mayor, Boris Johnson, is working in co-operation with Visit London to produce The Culture Diary, an online resource detailing all the cultural events that will take place in the capital during London’s key year of 2012.

Organisations and individuals planning such events for next year can upload details for free at The Culture Diary, right up until 31 December.

Said Mr Johnson, “London is the most exciting city on the planet, let there be no doubt,” adding, “In 2012 we are going to put on one of the greatest shows on earth, and throughout the year, not just during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, our city will offer a cornucopia of wonderful cultural events, large scale and small, from east to west and from north to south.”

Boris encouraged London’s event organisers not to “hide our collective light under a bushel” – something he is rarely accused of himself, we might add – by missing out on the opportunity to be part of the 2012 calendar.

Live events sector sees green shoots

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Eventia, the official trade body of the events and live marketing industry, recently published a White Paper on trends in the UK business events sector. Entitled ‘Green Shoots Forecast by Britain’s Live Events Sector’, the document sets a more optimistic view of the industry against a backdrop of government cuts and the anticipated effect on the number of public sector events.

As well as growth in corporate meetings and event budgets for 2010-11, revealed by buyer research, the White Paper highlights an expansion in the number of meetings and business events planned by the corporate sector over the coming year. The projected cumulative growth in the corporate hospitality segment between 2009 and 2014 is forecast to be a healthy 24 per cent, with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games generating many opportunities for business events.

Commented Eventia Chairman, Mark Saxby, “We fully recognise the scale and threats posed by cuts to public expenditure but also believe it’s vital not to miss the important green shoots and positive indicators for our sector.” He continues, “The fact that live and face-to-face events are increasingly being recognised as the most effective form of communication is a very positive factor, but there is still work to be done to get the message across to all stakeholders.”

Royal weddings set to boost promotional industry

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

As speculation mounts as to what Camilla might have offered in the way of advice to Kate during their recent lunch date, we can be pretty sure she wasn’t advising her to stock up on William & Kate tea towels, mugs or flags.

But one man’s tat is another’s treasure. The plain fact is that the royal weddings – Wills to Kate on 29 April and his cousin Zara to England rugby player, Mike Tindall, on 30 July – are great news for the UK’s promotional products industry. In these times of austerity and massive cuts, a little good news goes a long way and what Britain does really well – all that pomp and ceremony – is expected to give the economy a much-needed boost.

Of course, within days of the announcement of their engagement, the tackiest Wills & Kate souvenirs were on sale in the shops and on line, recalling the madness of memorabilia that abounded when Prince Charles wed Lady Diana Spencer back in 1981.

But it’s not just china plates, commemorative coins and fake rings. Experts estimate that the wedding (you know which one) could buoy up the struggling British economy to the tune of £620 million through merchandise sales and, more importantly, tourism.

Says retail expert at Verdict Research, Neil Saunders, “We believe the engagement could be worth between £12 and £18 million in merchandise sales alone. If, as expected, the wedding is a big set piece event, it could well capture the nation’s imagination and provide a fillip to the retail sector. We think wedding related merchandise sales could easily top £26 million in the UK, while food and grocery retailers could cash in to the tune of £360 million as consumers buy extra treats to celebrate the occasion.”

With some 30 million overseas tourists visiting Britain each year and bringing in revenue worth £16 billion, Saunders believes that the extra tourism linked to the wedding could be worth another £216 million to the economy. Now that’s what we call a honeymoon!

Common currency?

Friday, February 11th, 2011

News Editor of the trade magazine Packaging News, Simeon Goldstein, has come up with an ingenious solution to the problem of comparing carbon footprints by inventing a common currency based on the humble carrier bag.

Goldstein explains his tongue-in-cheek system for measuring environmental impact in a recent article on the website packagingnews.co.uk. He says that his reason for choosing the carrier bag as the unit of currency stems from a comment, made at a packaging conference in Amsterdam, that no consumer actually buys packaging – they are just after the contents. “In the consumer’s mind at least,” he says, “packaging mostly doesn’t exist until it becomes waste in the bin. With one significant exception. Plastic bags.”

He goes on to explain that one of the common complaints about schemes such as carbon footprinting is that people are unsure about what it actually stands for. “After four years here,” he admits, “I am still at a loss to understand exactly what a figure for embedded carbon actually means. But, we can all understand what a single-use plastic carrier bag is. So, in my utopia, everything should be labelled with ‘the same environmental impact as X number of plastic bags.”

He terms this measure the plastic-bag-print (PBP), which, he says, should feature on all food and drink labelling. “But it’s not just packaging,” he continues. “Everything could be labelled with a PBP. Instead of MPG, fuel economy could be labelled as PBP so that the consumers would see whether they were doing more harm to the environment from driving to Tesco or from buying that shrink-wrapped chicken.”

“Forget carbon miles,” says Goldstein. “The future is plastic bag miles.” He admits, however, that his ‘blue-sky thinking’ is unlikely to be taken up by environmentalists, politicians and consumers.

Confex on the move

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

International Confex – the UK’s leading event for event organisers – is moving venue. Organisers UBM Live have announced that this established and successful show will move from Earls Court, where the event is due to take place in just a few weeks’ time, to Excel London for its 2012 outing. The reason given by UBM Live for the move is that it will allow the show to expand in the future.

Said Confex Director, Alison Willis, “Moving to Excel will offer us more flexibility and opportunity to grow Confex in the next few years. We want to increase the hosted buyers scheme and reach more international visitors, which will be easier due to Excel’s close links to City Airport and plans for the Crossrail link. There are also a wide range of hotels on site and good facilities for our visitor base.” Jonny Sullens, Confex Group Portfolio Director, added, “We’ve made significant investment this year in a hosted buyer programme which will see more than 350 senior decision-makers brought into the event.”

Of course, 2012 is a big year for London and hosting the show at Excel during the same year as the 2012 Olympic Games was an important factor in the decision to shift. Ms Willis also said that, although there are currently no plans to use the International Convention Centre during the 2012 show, its presence on site provides flexibility to grow in the future. She added, “We have to make sure we remain the leading event for the event industry.”

Naturally, the big cheeses at Excel were delighted. Managing Director, David Pegler, commented that Excel’s own clients – such as the corporate and association markets – form a large share of the core audience targeted by the Confex team, and that the venue will use its own marketing to raise awareness of the exhibition.

Meanwhile, Earls Court and Olympia Group Managing Director, Nigel Nathan, put on a brave face: “We are very proud of the instrumental part we’ve played in the growth and success of International Confex and look forward to seeing how the show develops in its new location.” We bet they do!

UBM will, however, continue to hold a range of events at EC&O including Energy Solutions, Total Workplace Management, M&E – The Building Services Event, Technology for Marketing, Call Centre Expo and Internet World.

The final International Confex at Earls Court will take place next month from 1 to 3 March.