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Posts Tagged ‘carrier bags’

Winnipeg’s recycling off to a flying start!

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Many people reuse their carrier bags in inventive ways – as kitchen bin liners, somewhere to put a wet swimsuit after a dip and, of course, for collecting the inevitable when taking Fido for walkies. The ‘Take Pride Winnipeg!’ campaign takes the prize for inventiveness, however, with its recently launched programme that encourages students to collect plastic bags plastic bags for recycling into frisbees.

Dubbed ‘Bag Up Manitoba’ – after the province in which Winnipeg is located – the campaign will run during October at primary schools throughout the area. When originally launched in 2008, the programme included only schools in Winnipeg but the goal this year is to collect half a million plastic bags from 150 schools. ‘Take Pride Winnipeg!’ – a non-profit organisation committed to inspiring civic pride, raising public awareness and promoting citizen responsibility to make the city cleaner and more beautiful – is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Co-op hits out at Scottish bag tax

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

The Co-operative Group has become the latest organisation in the retail sector to voice its concerns over the proposed plastic bag tax in Scotland.

Becky Toal, the group’s Environmental Programme Manager, laid out the case against the tax at an environmental committee meeting in the Scottish Parliament recently. Arguing against the proposed levy of 10p on plastic bags across Scotland, Ms Toal said that, while the Co-op backed the ethos of waste management, it feared the bag tax would have a negative overall effect on the environment and might even result in violence in its stores.

“The Co-op is committed to seeking new ways of minimising the impact of industry on the environment,” Ms Toal told the committee. “We firmly support the Scottish Executive’s desire to tackle the problem of waste and have introduced a raft of environmentally-friendly initiatives over the years to reduce the environmental impact of our trading activities.”

“The Co-operative Group and other societies trading within Scotland do not believe the current proposal is a workable solution to the challenge of minimising the environmental impact of plastic carrier bags,” she continued.

Ms Toal argued that the Co-op agreed with Scottish Retail Consortium’s view that plastic carrier bags are not a significant contributor to litter pollution. The Co-op, she explained, also agreed with the SRC that customer pressure to replace plastic bags with paper bags would undo the work of the bag levy. The SRC has argued that paper bags have a higher environmental impact in terms of production than plastic bags. In addition, as paper bags are 4-5 times more voluminous than plastic ones, more deliveries are required to get them to stores, adding to road miles, congestion and emissions.

Ms Toal also added that the Co-op feared that customers might start a backlash, with the risk of violence in stores. “Store-based colleagues would be likely to face significant customer challenge to the introduction of the levy,” she said. “The rise of physical and verbal abuse faced by many employees in the retail sector has been well charted by Usdaw in its Freedom From Fear campaign. If responsibility for communicating about the levy rests with retailers and retail employees, they would be likely to face uncertainty, at best, and annoyance, at worst, from consumers.”

Regional promotional market analysis shows the power of the South

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Sourcing City, the leading online trade sourcing and lead generation service supplier, recently published a geographical analysis of the UK’s promotional merchandise distributors, which makes interesting reading.

The overall size of the promotional merchandise market – including all types of carrier bags, among a wealth of other products – in the UK & Ireland amounts to some £715 million. Sourcing City found that distributors in the South of England account for almost £340 million of this figure – in other words, around 50% of the entire market.

Looking at the 2032 distributor companies, Sourcing City found that the average distributor size in Greater London is over double that of companies in Central England. Over 50% of all distributors with a turnover in excess of £1 million are based in Southern England, whereas around 14% of £1m+ distributors are located in the Midlands and only 18% in the North.

Greater London is the largest regional area, accounting for over £108 million, followed by Central England in second place and the Southeast comes in third with £101 million of sales.

The Bribery Act

Monday, July 25th, 2011

The Bribery Act has been the source of much debate in the world of corporate hospitality in recent weeks. Introduced on Friday 1st July, the act is among the toughest anti-bribery and corruption legislation in the world today.

However, most commentators feel that fears have been overstated. Indeed, the government has published guidance that makes it clear that it is not the intention for genuine hospitality or reasonable and proportionate business expenditure to infringe the law. The objective of The Bribery Act 2010 is to catch hospitality that is really a cover for bribery.

In his foreword to the guidance, Ken Clarke, Justice Secretary, made it clear that the new legislation was aimed at those responsible for corruption and not designed to burden unduly the vast majority of decent, law-abiding firms. For example, he said that nobody wants to stop firms getting to know their clients by taking them to events such as Wimbledon or the Grand Prix. So, corporate hospitality firms and suppliers of promotional marketing products – including custom-printed carrier bags – can breathe a collective sigh of relief!

For those interested in the fine print, for there to be an offence in a commercial context, the prosecution must show that the hospitality both provided an advantage to another person AND was offered or given with the intention of inducing the person to perform a relevant function improperly or in the knowledge that the acceptance of the advantage would in itself be improper performance.

Environment Agency to republish bag report

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

According to the website, the Environment Agency has confirmed that it expects to republish its controversial report on carrier bags on its website by the end of July.

Mystery surrounded the organisation’s decision to remove the influential and long-awaited report. Originally scheduled for publication in 2007, the report did not actually appear until February 2011 and was then removed from the EA website in April due to ‘a legal query’.

The report concluded that plastic bags are almost 200 times less damaging to the environment than the cotton bags favoured by green campaigners, and that they have less than one third of the C0₂ emissions of paper bags. Thus, in order to offset the small impact of each plastic bag, 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. Critics of the report, however, pointed out that its findings ignore the effects of plastic bag litter.

Now an EA spokeswoman has said, “We are expecting to put the report on carrier bags back on our website at the end of July. We are making some minor changes to provide clarification on technical points but, at this stage, do not expect the conclusions to change.”

Currently the EA website carries this message: “A report commissioned by the Environment Agency shows that commonly-used plastic ‘bags for life’, if used four or more times, will have a lower carbon footprint than single-use carrier bags. We have received a legal query regarding the Report on the Life Cycle Assessment of Carrier Bags and have removed the report and the associated webpage temporarily whilst we investigate this. We will provide further information soon. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience caused.”

Watch this space.

New show to rival Confex

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Ocean Media Group is set to launch a brand-new show to rival International Confex. To be called The UK Venue Show, the new exhibition will launch next year, being co-located with Ocean Media’s Event Production Show (formerly The Event Show) on 1 & 2 February at Olympia. The new show has already received support from some potential exhibitors, as well as the Association of Event Venues (AEV).

The UK Venue Show has cheekily booked its slot a month ahead of International Confex, organised by UBM Live, which will take place at its new venue of London ExCeL in March 2012. News of the rival event has been warmly greeted by the promotional goods market, as Confex exhibitors have traditionally been great customers for a variety of exhibition items such as carrier bags, pens and USB sticks, and new shows are always welcomed as a source of promotional marketing activity.

Commented the show’s Director, Tanya Cohen, “Running alongside the Event Production Show, staying in central London and capitalising on the increasing strength of the UK domestic market means we have an excellent USP – quite simply to give people exactly what they want and have been asking for.  We anticipate over 250 exhibitors and 5,000 visitors over two days in year one – with lots of exciting plans still to be announced.”

Ocean Media Exhibitions is a leading events organiser operating in four key areas: specialist fashion, events production, leisure and social housing. The company staged 16 events in 2010 in the UK, Holland, Germany and Poland, with its portfolio of shows supported by its magazines, websites and conferences.

QR codes: thinking outside the box (or bag!)

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

One of the hottest topics in marketing right now is the subject of QR codes. If you’ve not encountered the term before (where have you been?), QR stands for Quick Response. Looking something akin to a barcode, the QR code bridges the gap between the online and offline world and, as such, is set to revolutionise business by integrating marketing communications.

Although they resemble barcodes, QR codes can carry significantly more data – such as links, videos, text, photos and other content – and they don’t require a scanner to read them, as most modern mobile ‘phones can do this using their cameras (hence the ‘quick’). You have probably spotted them in magazines and newspapers, and perhaps on business cards, on T-shirts, on billboards and even in store windows.

How does the system work? Well, marketers put a QR code on an item – such as a magazine advert – and a user scans it with a smartphone. In order to read the QR code, the phone must have a QR code reader, which can be downloaded free from an app store (and many Android devices now come with QR code readers). The phone’s camera decodes the QR code and takes the appropriate action – for example, directing the user to a mobile website.

QR codes can be seen as ‘doors’ to digital content, with readers on smartphones acting as the ‘keys’. By allowing consumers to access dynamic content – anywhere and any time – QR codes hold all kinds of possibilities, particularly in terms of brand promotions and the provision of exclusive media content. Brand owners should be considering QR-coded stickers, T-shirts and carrier bags to promote their digital identity and connect their real and virtual worlds.

According to a recent study, 57% of Facebook users have scanned a QR code. The problem is that there are still vast swathes of the population that are not digitally literate and are not in the Facebook community. Plus, of course, not all of those that are on Facebook have yet adopted smartphone technology. This lack of understanding and participation has definitely been standing in the way of progress but the future for QR codes is bright. Most QR codes now simply link to the company’s mobile website, but brand owners are starting to think outside of the box, so this is one to watch!

Branded carrier bags: a powerful weapon in the marketing arsenal

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

When it comes to promotional marketing, the options are almost limitless. Once your logo exists in a flexible and portable format – EPS or PDF, for example – there is a plethora of relatively inexpensive marketing options, from USB sticks and pens to baseball caps and cool bags.

Few, however, have the versatility and universal appeal of a printed carrier bag. Whether it’s a printed paper bag or a branded plastic bag, this product is used by both genders, all ages and every demographic. Bags are, of course, particularly useful at exhibitions or other events, where visitors or delegates tend to collect a whole bunch of materials that need to be transported home or back to the office. They can be used to carry merchandise purchased in shops or for give-aways at corporate functions, as well as for press kits at product launches. Bag users unwittingly become advertising agents as they move about, promoting your message to everyone around them.

Is there anything that you can do to enhance the power of branded bags even further? Well, yes. They have to be functional, that’s a given – so strength in construction is important. But they can also be attractive. An aesthetically pleasing or trendy design will maximise the use the recipient makes of it and promote re-use on other occasions. This means that great design and high-quality printing contribute to the environmental friendliness of carrier bags. Of course, any copywriting on the bag must sell the brand, product or concept being promoted. It should be short and sweet – and correctly spelled!

Carrier bag report removed from EA website

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Mystery surrounds the decision by the Environment Agency (EA) to remove an influential report from its website. The long-awaited report – which was scheduled for publication in 2007 but did not actually appear until February of this year – was removed from the EA website on 12 April due to ‘a legal query’. Its publication had been broadly welcomed by the packaging industry, as it concluded that cotton bags were actually no greener than plastic bags.

An EA spokeswoman recently told the website, “We removed the report on the Life Cycle Assessment of Carrier Bags from our website after we received a legal query regarding it. We are making some minor changes to provide clarification on technical points but, at this stage, do not expect the conclusions to change. We plan to publish it again very soon.”

The EA has not revealed the nature of the legal query, nor the identity of the organisation or individual who raised it. The report shows that HDPE bags are almost 200 times less damaging to the environment than the cotton bags favoured by green campaigners, and that they have less than one third of the C02 emissions of paper bags. Thus, in order to offset the small impact of each plastic bag, 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. Critics of the report, however, have pointed out that its findings totally ignore the effects of plastic bag litter. All this comes at a pivotal moment, as the EU is considering a Europe-wide ban on single-use plastic bags as part of its plans to reduce the impact of plastic waste.

INCPEN says Waste Review should reflect EA bag report

Friday, April 8th, 2011

INCPEN – the Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment – has stated that Defra’s Waste Review should incorporate the findings of the Environment Agency’s ’suppressed’ report on supermarket carrier bags.

The Environment Agency’s report, published back in February, found that a cotton shopping bag has to be re-used over 130 times to have less environmental impact than a single-use plastic carrier.

INCPEN Director, Jane Bickerstaffe, has said that she welcomes the EA’s study as an important contribution to the debate about carrier bags and that she hopes the government’s Waste Review, due to be published in May, would analyse the science and not take “a knee-jerk reaction” on carrier bags.

Ms Bickerstaffe added, “The Government is keen to use an evidence-based approach to policy. We hope the Waste Review policy will reflect these findings and that other countries will re-think their policies on bags.”

Bickerstaffe has also called on the Welsh Assembly Environment Minister, Jane Davidson, to stop the introduction of a single-use carrier bag charge, due to be introduced this October, and called on Italy to stop its plastic bag ban. She added, “We should not wrongly demonise the bag that actually has the smallest environmental impact.”