An answer to waste

<p>Publishers! Wholesalers! Distributors! A New Year resolution: Must look at packaging when you send books out.&nbsp;</p>
<p>I am sure we are not alone at The Watermill in feeling huge frustration in throwing away&mdash;even into a recycling skip&mdash;good cardboard boxes and masses of paper packaging, day after day. It's a terrible waste of resources. And it costs&mdash;the &quot;waste disposal&quot; bill for recycling cardboard and paper (almost entirely generated by packaging) at The Watermill is &pound;270 a year.</p>
<p>So what is the answer? Can a few heads please get together&mdash;Booksellers Association and book suppliers&mdash;and get someone in from Friends of the Earth and work out a &quot;best practice&quot; for distribution.</p>
<p>What are the alternatives? Returnable plastic skips were used a few years ago by Bertrams and Macmillan. What happened to them? Were there return problems? If so, why do they still work for W H Smith?</p>
<p>Then how do we fill space in boxes? Plastic (nasty) shrinkwrap (Bertrams) or (wasteful) paper (Gardners)? My gut feeling is that the shrinkwrap is better&mdash;especially as it seems no one wants to buy recycled paper any more, so it sits in warehouses instead of getting recycled. But please don't weld the plastic to the box&mdash;we hate HarperCollins and TBS boxes&mdash;they take ages to break down so the cardboard can be recycled.&nbsp;</p>
<p>How about returning flattened boxes to suppliers for a second trip? It might be a bit fiddly&mdash;but then safeguarding our environment tends to be. Booksellers could bundle up undamaged boxes to go back to their original suppliers. Second time around the boxes might have the odd bit of printing torn where tape has been removed. I think we can cope with that. It would probably also be cost-effective&mdash;my sources tell me each box costs about 50p and booksellers would save on recycling costs.</p>
<p>Rant over! Now we have to get ready for our Burns cele&shy;brations. On Monday we hold our own Burns Night, featuring four local performers who produced a CD &quot;Simply Burns&quot; based on a similar event last year. This year is especially significant, as it is&nbsp; the bard's 250th anniversary. We have a particular affinity for the bard as he penned one of his classic poems, &quot;Birks o' Aberfeldy&quot;, about the burn that runs behind our building:</p>
<p><br />
Now Simmer blinks on flow'ry braes,<br />
And o'er the crystal streamlets plays,<br />
Come, let us spend the lightsome days<br />
In the birks of Aberfeldy</p>
<p><br />
And this is on our doorstep!<br />