Highland Greens have called for all major supermarkets operating in the Highlands to collectively contribute at least £10 million annually to help offset The Highland Council’s £25 million waste management bill.
Donnie Macleod, Highlands and Islands Greens’ nominee for next year’s Holyrood elections for the Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber constituency, said: “At a time when museums and libraries, and schools are under threat of permanent closure, it is unacceptable for residents and businesses in the Highlands to be literally wasting £25 million, year in, year out, simply on processing unwanted packaging. We pay for such packaging when we buy goods, and then we have to pay all over again for its disposal. This is absurd.
“The Highlands are haemorrhaging vast sums of money to the supermarkets. Each year, supermarkets rake in billions in profits, yet little of that money is reinvested here in the Highlands. In fact Studies show that 80 pence in every pound spent at supermarkets leaves the Highlands.
“‘The Polluter Pays’ is a fundamental principle of sustainable development. In the exactly same way that BP should pay for tackling oil pollution in the Gulf of Mexico, so should the supermarkets bear the waste management costs of their own products.
“Far better that the waste wasn’t generated in the first place. Having to contribute directly to their own ‘clean-up’ operations might encourage the supermarkets not to produce so much packaging in the first place.
(1) A copy of the H&IGP’s letter to The Highland Council inviting them to approach the supermarkets is below. (See our next article for the result.)
Highlands and Islands Green Party
Cllr. David Alston
Council Budget Leader
The Highland Council
Inverness IV3 5NX
Dear Councillor Alston
BUDGET CONSULTATION; WASTE MANAGEMENT COSTS
I am writing on behalf of my Party to request you approach the principal supermarket chains operating in the Highlands and invite them to contribute towards offsetting the enormous annual cost (around £25 million) to The Highland Council of waste management.
The Council’s recent budget consultation document makes clear that waste management forms a huge (over 4%) proportion of the total budget. While we very much welcome the Council’s continuing endeavours to minimise waste generation and to maximise recycling, we consider that, primarily because of the budgetary situation, more urgent action is necessary to reduce this cost significantly – action which may also help prevent waste generation in the first place.
We consider it an unnecessary burden for the public (including businesses as well as residents) to pay for packaging when buying goods, and then to pay again, through their Council and other taxes, for this material to be removed. Ideally, we would want all producers to be required to take back their packaging. But given the: urgency of the situation; the huge volume of goods bought at supermarkets; their profitability; their financial ‘drain’ on the community (we understand that £.80p in every £ spent at supermarkets leaves the Highlands), we consider that the case is overwhelming for The Highland Council to approach the leading supermarkets to make (annual?) significant financial contributions to reducing its waste management costs. We suggest the Council aim to secure at least £10 million annually. Such as step would also encourage the supermarkets to think harder about minimising packaging.
Please let me know whether you intend to act on our request.
I am copying this letter to Cllr. Foxley and to Alistair Dodds