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Charles’s ‘black spider memos’ hit on Denmark

The trove of correspondence between Prince Charles and the UK's then prime minister Tony Blair and other government leaders includes a letter telling Blair to look to Denmark for inspiration in the dairy sector.

Charles's 'black spider memos' hit on Denmark
Prince Charles's 'black spider memos' were released after a ten-year legal battle. Photo: Ben Stansall/AFP/Scanpix
Decade-old letters written from Prince Charles to British government officials were released by the Guardian on Wednesday and within the trove of documents is a letter to former Prime Minister Tony Blair in which the Prince of Wales expresses admiration for Denmark’s competition laws. 
 
In the correspondence, Prince Charles writes about the UK dairy sector and the Office of Fair Trading acting as “a serious obstacle to developing dairy co-operatives”. Charles then points to Denmark as a model for emulation. 
 
“Meanwhile, in Europe, particularly Denmark and Germany where co-operatives are more established, competition law is being interpreted entirely differently and there is one co-operative in Denmark that has a ninety per cent market share!” Prince Charles wrote, referring to dairy giant Arla.
 
Arla began as a co-operative between Danish and Swedish milk farmers back in the 1880s and now has 12,500 owners based in seven countries: Sweden, Denmark, the UK, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Arla explains its set up here
 
Prince Charles wrote that Arla’s share “may be somewhat excessive, but unless United Kingdom co-operatives can grow sufficiently the processors and retailers will continue to have the farmers in an arm lock and we will continue to shoot ourselves in the foot!”
 
The entire exchange can be read here
 
The correspondence with Blair is one of 27 letters released by The Guardian on Wednesday after a ten-year legal battle. The release of the so-called ‘black spider memos’ reveal what The Guardian classified as “the breadth and depth of the heir to the throne’s lobbying at the highest level of politics.” 
 
 
 

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Danish company to scrap plastic caps from millions of organic milk cartons

Dairy giant Arla is to stop using plastic screw tops on its one-litre organic milk cartons.

Danish company to scrap plastic caps from millions of organic milk cartons
Photo: Andrew Kelly/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

The decision by the company is part of an effort to reduce CO2 emissions, it said in a statement.

Much of Arla’s packaging – including the one-litre organic milk cartons – is already produced from renewable materials such as plants and trees.

By dropping the plastic caps, the company says it can reduce the CO2 footprint of each carton by 30 percent.

Consumers buy 74 million cartons a year of the product from which the plastic packaging component is set to be removed. Each individual plastic cap is responsible for emissions of 10 grams of CO2, according to Arla.

As such the emissions saving on the caps could reach 740 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. The figures are based on emissions measured during the period October 2019 to September 2020.

Arla has previously declared its ambition to achieve CO2-neutral operations by 2050.

READ ALSO: Danish dairy giant wants CO2-neutral milk production by 2050

“We and our farmers have an ambitious target of becoming CO2 neutral, and we are reducing are emissions on an ongoing basis,” Arla Denmark country director Helle Müller Petersen said in the statement.

“Part of that work is to reduce the CO2 emissions from our packaging, for example by reducing the use of plastic,” Petersen added.

“It’s therefore an active choice for us to remove the screw top from the organic milk,” she said.

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