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Friday, 7 June 2013

An eggs-ellent find

My local butcher has always sold free range eggs and I've bought them from there a few times, but recently they have introduced a twenty pence per half dozen discount if you bring your own egg box.

The eggs are £1.59 per half dozen (with the 20p discount) for large eggs.  Four eggs consistently weigh 266 grammes which makes a nice big cake.  I always weigh my eggs and use equal weight of butter, sugar and flour for cake-making.

Lemon drizzle cake and raisin and oatmeal cookies.

I am really keen to support this kind of reuse system.  It is bound to work well as the customer has the incentive to remember their egg boxes or have the pain of paying 20p per box more.  Carrot and stick is always a good combination.

Cardboard egg boxes are great on the compost, and the cardboard and plastic egg boxes are recyclable and collected by most councils, but reuse generally has higher carbon savings than recycling - and this system of egg box reuse is a perfect - yet oh so simple - example of a carbon saving system.  The Waste Hierarchy (pictured below) shows that the best way to deal with packaging is to prevent it.  If you can't prevent it then the next best thing is to prepare it for reuse and if you can't reuse it, then recycle it.  If you can't recycle it then ideally your method of disposal will recover some value from it - as it would if you were to compost your cardboard egg boxes.  As the Waste Hierarchy diagram shows, binning your egg boxes into landfill is the last resort - and basically shouldn't be happening!

The Waste Hierarchy

Image reproduced with kind permission of Scottish Environmental Protection Agency:

The first time I noticed the egg box reuse incentive (i.e. 20p saving) I didn't have egg boxes with me, but I knew I'd be passing the butcher's the next day, so as soon as I unpacked my meat I retrieved plastic egg boxes from my recycling bin and found a cardboard one that was awaiting being torn up to add to my wormery, and popped them in my bag.  The next day I was pleased with my 60p saving -  it was a cricket tea week - so I needed eggs for sandwich filling and eggs for cake-making.

I noticed yesterday the eggs from the little supermarket in our village were 10p per half dozen cheaper but my daughter bought those a few days ago to make a birthday cake (the butcher was closed) and the four eggs weighed just 214g.

So, I've got into the habit now of keeping my egg boxes in the bag I take to the butcher's, so I can always get my discount.  I'll be cake making for cricket tea this afternoon.  I'm thinking... lemon drizzle, fairy cakes, fruit scones and I might try making some chocolate cookies.


Green Steve said...

I wish more big brands and supermarkets would somehow provide these reuse incentives because with some things it would be easy to reuse containers over and over again.

Most toiletries and cleaning products have bottles or containers that could easily be reused if refill stations were more widely available.

I guess with the bigger shops it might be tricky with all those self service checkouts and such but I'd welcome it if one of the big supermarkets at least tried to overcome the obstacles.

Anna Pitt said...

I agree, Steve. It would be great to see more reuse incentives introduced by the big supermarkets. The shopping bag reuse scheme has been hugely successful. I'm sure other things could work just as well.
In the meantime, I'm trying to direct my business towards small shops and market stalls that do encourage and support reuse.
But there's no escaping the fact that the supermarkets are where we need to see changes, because that's where it would really make a difference and if one took that leap, others would follow, as they do.