BETTER BADGES OCTOBER 2020

Giki’s mission is to help people live more sustainably. Our Giki Badges app does that by providing our users with simple, easy to understand information on over 280,000 UK supermarket products.

We also continuously improve Giki in order to further support our users as they try to find more sustainable and healthy products. Here we talk about some of the most recent changes.

We know we will never be perfect, but we hope that by constantly listening to our users, and improving, we’ll get better and better over time.

Better Packaging

In the UK an organisation called OPRL provides standards on how companies should label their packaging to help consumers recycle. At the moment there are three main labels that people see: widely recycled, check local recycling and not currently recycled.

However, from 2020 OPRL will move to a binary approach of just “recycle” or “don’t recycle”. This provides a far simpler message for people, for example no more checking the council website to see what they recycle in your area, and it’s hoped will increase recycling rates.

Although these changes will be phased in over the next 3 years we’re tightening our criteria now to help people find packaging where as little as possible goes to landfill. This does mean that fewer products will now get the better packaging badge but it should also help people find supermarket products where the majority of the packaging can be recycled. In particular products with plastic films which are “check locally recycling” will no longer get the badge and with only a small number of councils actually recycling these films this feels like a good next step in pursuit of a fully recyclable supermarket shop.

Unfortunately not all companies even follow OPRL. In these cases, and where they don’t provide recycling information, we cannot award a Better Packaging badge. As always we encourage companies to follow the guidelines from OPRL that are recognised by the majority of people across the UK.

Some more details for packaging pros

The main changes as a result of the new label rules are

  • PVC and PS are now classified as unrecyclable
  • cPET and coloured aPET/rPET are now classified as recyclable
  • Near Infra-Red (NIR) detectability is critical for plastics – non-detectable polymers are now classified unrecyclable.
  • Recycle means that more than 75% of councils recycle
  • Don’t recycle means that less than 50% do

You’ll start to see the new labels appearing on more and more packaging too.

Sustainable Palm oil

Every year some of the world’s largest palm oil users report on their progress towards sustainable palm oil. They do this through the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) giving the public a clear view of the amount, and type, of palm oil that companies use.

We’ve analysed the latest data and have updated our Sustainable Palm Oil badges accordingly. There’s been real progress in some areas but there are still many companies who have not made positive changes over the last year.

Progress

The UK supermarkets continue to lead the way on sustainable palm oil with most of them using sustainable palm oil based on our criteria. Last year we also highlighted that many companies had started redacting their palm oil data but they no longer have this option and, as a result, transparency is much improved.

Challenges

Unfortunately it’s not all good news. There are still far too few companies using segregated and identity preserved palm oil and this includes many of the world’s largest consumer goods companies. As a result we’ve seen no big increase in scores for some of the big brands including Mondelez and Nestle.

Moreover, palm oil derivatives which are commonly found in cosmetics and soaps continue to be a real challenge for companies.  On the one hand this is a hard practical challenge as the supply chain for derivatives is complex. On the other we believe that for such an important issue companies need to do more to understand the provenance of the palm oil used in their ingredients. As a result of this it remains hard to find sustainable palm oil in cosmetic and personal care products.

For further details on how we award the Sustainable Palm Oil badges please see here.

 

Palm oil free

Finally no palm oil discussion is complete with consideration of going palm oil free. The arguments for sustainable palm oil vs palm oil free are well rehearsed and can be summarised as a) palm oil is a great crop and if you move away from it you have no guaranteed that the alternative will be any more sustainable. Furthermore millions of people rely on palm oil for the livelihoods vs b) the impact of palm oil on climate change and biodiversity is simply so great that we have to find alternatives and / or dramatically reduce the consumption of products that contain palm oil.

As a result we’ve been asking our users whether they’d like to see a palm oil free badge that would sit alongside sustainable palm oil. We believe the first key step is to stop buying unsustainable palm oil and either sustainable palm or palm oil free is a potential route for people to follow and a palm oil free badge would also open up more options for people in the supermarket to avoid unsustainable palm oil. With so little progress on sustainable palm oil it feels like the case for a palm oil free badge has strengthened again in 2020.

If you have a view then please do contact us.

 

Photo by Lyndon Li on Unsplash