Of all voluntary agreements, the Home Improvement Sector Agreement has the most notable absentees. Signed in September 2009, it aims to get the ‘do it yourself’ sector to cut packaging use by 15% by 2012 and halve landfill (ENDS Report 417, p 22).
The six initial signatories, included big retailers such as B&Q and the Home Retail Group (HRG), but covered just 45% of the market. Only Crown Paints and ICI Paints Akzo Nobel have since joined.
When ENDS spoke to signatories, most were disappointed that more firms had not signed up. “[We] were hopeful that WRAP would have been able to bring in more of the... supply chain as well as retailers,” said Wickes.
None of the specialist kitchen or bathroom firms has signed up.
Jonathan Couper, B&Q’s packaging manager, names the big power tool makers such as Black & Decker and Bosch as notable absentees. But he admits WRAP would find it hard to get international businesses interested in a UK-specific agreement.
Laurence Singer of HRG’s corporate responsibility team says the lack of signatories “is a concern”, especially as the government has been talking about a similar agreement to cut toy packaging.
Despite concern about the agreement’s breadth, all signatories say it is useful, especially in allowing discussions with competitors.
Performance seems split between manufacturers and retailers (see table).
ICI Paints has exceeded both targets, while Crown Paints is also on track to meet them early.
Retailers’ performance is more mixed, especially in reducing packaging. HRG appears to have already met the packaging target. Mr Singer said: “It’s been a bigger challenge for us than for the food retailers as most DIY packaging is cardboard or plastic [film] and so cannot be light-weighted.” The company has instead had to focus on “right-sizing” and reusable transit packaging.
But Jonathan Couper of B&Q says “it would have been nice to have had slightly higher targets as it would stretch people”. Some of the signatories would not agree to that in the talks leading up to the agreement, he says.