/ Sustainability

Opinion: why satsuma nets are sinister

Shoppers are psychologically hardwired into expecting packaging that makes no sense. It’s time for us to think outside the box. Do you agree?

Close your eyes for a moment. Picture some satsumas on a supermarket shelf. I bet your mental image includes a net. Almost all citrus fruit is packaged in these ridiculous nets.

They can’t be recycled in household collections, there’s no obvious way to reuse them and they serve no meaningful purpose in preserving shelf life or reducing waste. Worst of all, if you accidentally put them in your household recycling they could clog up the machinery at the recycling plant.

Yet our brains are primed to believe citrus fruit must come in these nets. One supermarket tried to ditch them a few years ago, selling satsumas in other types of packaging. The result? Sales nosedived.

It’s not just citrus fruit packaging

Is it that our minds are so inflexible we can’t cope with our favourite groceries packaged in a slightly different way? Or is it that we’re not given enough of a chance? Because it’s not just citrus fruit.

Until recently almost all red meat was packaged in black plastic trays, as marketing bosses wanted to disguise stray drops of blood. Black plastic is a huge recycling sin because, while it’s technically recyclable, its colour means it’s not picked up by the infrared sorting system at recycling sites. Manufacturers have seen sense and started to swap the black for other colours.

And don’t get me started on Pringles tubes.

They’re large, heavy and unrecyclable in household collections. So why are they like this? Seemingly because we like uniformly shaped crisps without even a hint of a natural potato shape.

Recycling labelling

One way to combat this absurdity is recycling labelling. Having to label something non-recyclable will make everyone think twice. We’ve been calling for four years for it to be mandatory and the government has just said this will come into effect in 2026.

Until then, retailers manufacturers and shoppers must literally think outside the box and seek out more sustainable alternatives when it comes to grocery packaging.

Do you agree that we need to find alternative packaging solutions? Why do you think sales nosedived when the satsuma nets were ditched? Let me know in the comments.

Comments

Don’t agree the nets have no recycle use ,I use mine in the garden as bird scare’s flapping about on a stick keep them off my seed and plants.
Also Pringles tubes can be recycled , simply cut the metal end off , remove plastic top and you have a cardboard tube that flattens. Ok tiny bit of faff but can be done.

Sue Cox says:
1 May 2022

Very odd to read that most people expect satsumas to be in nets! I shy away from any pre packaged fruit or veg, preferring to make my own selection. That way I get exactly what I need without any sub standard or rotting fruit hiding in the middle.

Mr, G says:
2 May 2022

I like nets for fruit and veg. Smell and touch are important to check if its ok.

Mr. G — That’s even easier with loose produce which you can select individually.