Firms named and shamed over 'absurd' freight

View over the Alps en route to Geneva
View over the Alps en route to Geneva Copyright Angela Barnes
By Angela BarnesAnne Fleischmann
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One company ships Swiss alpine air in cans almost 20,000km to Asia.


A Swiss environmental group has named and shamed companies for the "absurd transport" of goods, including one firm that flew cans of alpine air almost 20,000km for sale in Asia.

The Alpine Initiative wants to fight environmental pollution and make consumers more aware of the environmental cost of freight transportation. It is encouraging members of the public to vote for the worst offenders.

Nominees include Swiss Air Deluxe, which transports Swiss alpine air to Asia, as well as supermarket chain Migros, which sells Norwegian water that has to travel 1,500km.

Aldi also makes the list producing ham in the Netherlands, processing it in Italy and Austria, and finally selling it in Switzerland.

Many of the companies that made the list took note of the nominations.

Swiss Air Deluxe founder Markus Klinkmüller defended the business model, arguing that the capacity in the ships were used on the return voyage.

Explaining the product, he said: "The air from the can is inhaled through the lid like a breathing mask and is intended to help combat fatigue."

A Migros spokesperson said that more than 60 percent of the water in its shops comes from domestic sources.

Meanwhile, Aldi claimed that the transport times and loading of the vehicles have been optimised "in order to keep the number and duration of transports as low as possible".

The competition will run until September 15, with the winner announced on 2 October.

But the Alpine Initiative isn't only calling out the worst offenders - it also gives an award to those actively trying to improve their footprint.

Alpine Initiative's Isabelle Pasquier said that 2017's winner was the city of Lausanne, after it stocked mostly local agricultural products in its canteen.

"In 2018, it was [for] a small organisation that served customers tap water in a carafe, to convince both customers and restaurant owners to avoid bottled water," she said.

Pasquier added that in the past 'winners' of the "absurd transport" have changed their ways.

"We make a enquiries to previous winners and must admit that a few have changed their practices," she said.

"With growing pubic awareness, we hope this pressure will make them be more conscious."

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