Paying for the environment with plastic

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

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Question: Does travel retail need to become more eco-friendly?

Answer: In an age where oil is tipping the US$100 a barrel mark, where rates of fuel burn are a major issue, and where more and more travellers are becoming aware of the impact on their activities on the planet, the answer has to be a resounding yes.

As we pointed out in the Year-End edition of The Moodie Report PLUS, duty free retailing is synonymous with glass bottles and plastic bags. The latter have even (necessarily) been promoted as part of the industry solution to the LAGs crisis that arose out of the aviation terror alert in the UK in August 2006.

Glass bottles – and their contents – undoubtedly contribute to fuel burn. More and more carriers will question whether they should carry liquor for duty free sale onboard as a result – if you don’t believe me get hold of a copy of Emirates Senior Vice President Terry Daly’s wonderful speech from the recent MEDFA conference in Dubai (www.TFWA.com).

But glass is at least recyclable and all of us in the industry can mount a pretty decent argument about the merits of the liquor category not only as a hugely popular consumer service but also as an economic contributor to airport infrastructure and keeping travel costs down.

But I’d be far less confident about marshalling the case for the defence of plastic bags – security crisis or no security crisis.

So we’re impressed by an initiative from Dubai-based Enthusiasm, the nicely-named company run by experienced trade executive Pradeep Parmar.

Pradeep has made a New Year’s Resolution to persuade duty free retailers that there is a viable and eco-friendly alternative to the dreaded plastic. He’s promoting a line of jute bags, which he says will at least offer an option for environmentally minded travellers who are keen to reduce their carbon footprints.

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He’s rolled out a number of options – some of them pictured here – which look attractive, don’t harm the environment and also offer great branding opportunities.

And as the jute bags will be sold to travellers, Pradeep suggests that some or all of that revenue be poured back into an environmental cause. If nothing else, it would be good PR for a channel that needs all it can get right now.

It’s known as taking the lead. And if there’s one lesson that this industry should heed from its 60-year history it would be the need to get your retaliation in first before you get legislated against.

Pradeep, like many of us, was influenced deeply by viewing the Al Gore documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’.

Plastic bags are a very convenient element of the duty free industry in the early days of the 21st century. But to at least offer an alternative choice seems like the good – and truthful – route to pursue.

winebag1.jpg“Every small step we take will make a difference in reducing global warming,” Pradeep says [you can have your say by responding to this BLOG or by visiting the debate on The Moodie Report FORUM on our home page].  

We agree. Next time you buy that bottle of duty free wine or spirits – if you’re flying point to point of course – wouldn’t it be nice to pay just that little bit extra and feel just that little bit better?

Otherwise it may be a case of “How would you like to pay for your environment Sir?”

“With plastic…”

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