MPs back Lush packaging drive

Jo Swinson at Lush Cosmetics

Jo took a hands-on approach to learning about Lush’s minimal packaging policy

With the Liberal Democrats holding their Autumn Conference in Bournemouth, excess packaging campaigner Jo Swinson took the opportunity to join Mid Dorset and North Poole MP Annette Brooke on a tour of the Lush Cosmetics factory today.

Based in Poole, Lush has put cutting excess packaging at the heart of the company’s strategy by taking an innovative approach to product design and packaging reduction. Each 55g Lush Shampoo Bar provides approximately the same number of washes as three 250ml bottles of liquid shampoo, while last year alone, Lush customers saved 3,000,000 plastic bottles by using shampoo bars instead of packaged liquid shampoo.

Jo has campaigned extensively on issues around excess packaging for over two years. In October 2007 she presented a Private Members Bill at Westminster, proposing tighter regulations on packaging and binding targets for packaging reduction. The proposals in the Bill were subsequently discussed with DEFRA Minister Joan Ruddock.

After being given a tour of the Lush factory by Ethics Director Hilary Jones, Jo commented:

“People from across the whole country have told me that they are frustrated by the amount of excess packaging they encounter. Card, plastic, foil and glass all contribute to the 4.7 million tonnes of packaging waste disposed of by UK households each year.

“Consumers are paying for excess packaging three times over: once at the checkout, once in council taxes for refuse or recycling collection and once in the environmental cost in terms of carbon emissions. It makes no environmental sense to over-package products and no economic sense to charge frustrated consumers for packaging they don’t need.”

Annette Brooke added:

“It is great to see ethical businesses like Lush taking the initiative and realising that their customers don’t want to pay for elaborate packaging that they will discard or recycle as soon as they get home. The government should be showing the same initiative by taking much bigger steps to reduce the amount of wasteful excess packaging faced by consumers.

Jo Swinson with Hilary Jones at Lush

Removing water from Lush products eliminates much of the need for packaging

“I am extremely proud to have such a forward looking, successful environmental business in the heart of my constituency.”

Last year’s Liberal Democrat conference saw the party adopt a new policy on packaging proposed by Jo Swinson. The policy includes introduction of binding targets to reduce packaging and action to cut the use of plastic bags.

Lush Ethics Director Hilary Jones said:

“It is refreshing to have MPs show an interest in this issue. Only by Parliament and businesses working together can we find a solution to this growing mountain of waste. The public want something done and businesses and MPs should be doing more to find solutions to these problems.”

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