Emotional Sub-Optimisation

I received a flyer from an organic food company.  One of their selling points is that they keep packaging to a minimum.  Sounds sensible.  Less waste in the environment.

When you look into it though it isn’t quite that easy.  According to the Advisory Committee on Packaging:
–  1.5 grams of plastic extends the shelf life of a cucumber by 11 days
–  Selling grapes in trays or bags reduces in store waste by 20%
–  Packing new potatoes reduces shop waste from 3% to 1%

So packaging is good, it reduces food waste in the environment.

If that confuses try googling “Plastic Packaging is Good for the Environment”.  You will find a hornets’ nest of very strongly held and conflicting views.  Accusations are flung, nobody is listening.  Really quite nasty.

I have absolutely no idea what the answer is.

What I do know is that to optimise something, anything you need to:
1.  Be clear what you are trying to optimise.
2.  Look at the data.
3.  Look at the whole system.

And most of all kill the emotion.

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