Travelling smart

A Great Western Railway train arriving at Cardiff Central station. Image: Ceri Breeze /

The weekend just gone I travelled to Cardiff to see a good friend, and was treated on my outward journey by being able to purchase the Re:Water x Pret A Manger aluminium water bottles. On the way to the train, I also passed by some in Caffé Nero. It was a joy to see metal being encouraged as a packaging option by these two UK café giants.

However, and there always seems to be a ‘but’ at the moment… Once I was on the train and had finished my bottle of water, there was nowhere to indicate where the bins were located. I asked the staff who looked about the carriage helplessly before suggesting I deposit my waste in the bin in the carriage’s WC.

Now, the internet informs me that the waste on Great Western railway trains is sorted by hand and not to worry. The GWR website links to this video as proof… It’s seven years old. In the video, it asks please would travellers use the correct bins, to avoid contamination, which we in the packaging industry know to be of high importance. So, how are consumers meant to do this on trains that only have one waste bin provided, which is without doubt going to be contaminated with whatever sanitary waste is being deposited there too? I’m still looking for the answers.

In Gravesend, Kent, where Bell’s office is located, the local Southeastern trains at least have bins clearly marked and provided in each carriage, but again, they are only general waste bins. How are we meant to be assured our waste is being collected properly?

I ended up keeping and re-using my Pret water bottle all weekend and recycled it when I arrived home from Cardiff, but we can’t expect everybody to do the same.

There needs to be synergy in how everyone in the packaging supply chain, as well as decision makers and consumers, consider the journey of the packaging, and where it’s going to ultimately end. Travelling by train, in terms of transport emissions, is more environmentally friendly than by car or air, so it makes sense to ensure the food and drink items we take on our journeys are disposed of properly once we’re done with the packaging. We need to be smarter here.

In other news, the February edition of CanTech has just landed – read it here.

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