Arnika warning consumers in Děčín: PVC does not belong in a shopping basket

12.7.2008 - Děčín

A larger-than-life duck tried today to discourage customers of Hypernova in Děčín today from buying food packaged in PVC (1). „The event was influenced by the results of survey (2) we've recently made in Děčín. Consumers' awareness of hazard connected with PVC has slightly improved, but most people still are not able to recognize if the food is packaged in this kind of plastic – only some 15% of them can do that,“ head of the campaign „Don't Play With PVC“ Ing. Miroslava Jopkova, explained why the action was organised. At the conclusion people from Arnika tumbled the duck and the food packaged in PVC out from the shopping basket to demonstrate that consumers do their best when they avoid the hazardous plastic and not to buy products packaged in it at all, as Jopkova explained.

„We were explaining to people during the event how they can easily recognize the PVC packages. Key is in a symbol for PVC – it is either mark composed of 3 letters - „PVC“, or number 3 in triangle as a sign of recycling (3). The sign is imprinted on a label of food packages or directly on the packaging,“ said one of organisers and head of Arnika's branch in Děčín, Kamil Repeš. People from Arnika were also handing out customers lists of particular food products packaged in PVC (4). „We have found more than 20 such products during our survey in Hypernova – for example milk product „Termix“ from dairy Kunín, products from chicken meat from poultry house Klatovy, ice creams from producer Nowaco or nut-chocolate cream Orion by Nestlé. We bought some of these products for the purposes of the event,“ Repeš added. Arnika is going to send these products packaged in PVC together with a letter directly to their producers. „We are wondering why they pack food into material which can harm consumers' health and also significantly burdens environment,“ Jopkova said.

Arnika´s activities in this project were supported by grant provided by Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and by the EEC Financial Mechanism and Norwegian Financial Mechanism by NROS (Foundation for Development of Civil Society) and by grant of the Prague City Hall.

(1) Happening started at 11 a.m. in front of Hypernova Děčín (Děčín IV-Podmokly, Uhelná 1896/2).

(2) Arnika made survey in 3 Czech regions (Ústí nad Labem, South Czech -Jihočeský and in Prague) to find out preferences of PVC-free food packaging. The first wave of the survey ended in December 2007 (see Arnika's press release from 3 January 2008, HERE). Activities concentrated on public awareness of PVC problematics followed.
Second, comparative phase of the survey was realized in May 2008 with following results: 25% respondents find important the products are not packaged in PVC. There is slight increase of number of those who think that food packaged in PVC is harmful (from 54 % to 62 %). Slight increase was also observed in case of prevailing majority of those convinced that PVC packages damage environment (from 80 to 85 %). Ability of recognizing PVC products almost doubled (from 9 to 15 %) but is still very low. Only a sixth of all respondents knows material code for PVC. As for „green“ consumers (i.e. those who are against PVC and accept responsibility for their own shopping decisions), their ability to recognize PVC packaging has increased more significantly (from 9 to 24 %).

(3) Sign of PVC packaging: triangle with „3“ or letter „v“, and writing „PVC“ or „V“ or „vinyl“ under the triangle. The sign is imprinted on the bottom side of the plastic product or on paper label.

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