Time to wrap up excess packaging for good

In a new report looking at children’s Christmas gifts, Jo has called on the Government to crack down on excess packaging.

In her report, ‘Excess Packaging: Are your Christmas gifts over-wrapped?’, Jo has highlighted good and bad examples of packaging on children’s toys.

The report points out that while the law requires manufacturers to keep packaging to the minimum necessary, the Government is failing to enforce this.

Jo has highlighted a cuddly polar bear sold by WWF as an example of a minimally packaged gift, comparing it with Mattel’s Waybuloo soft toys which come in an unnecessary cardboard box. She praised marbles, sold with a fabric bag, while criticising a Rubik’s “4 x 4 Revenge” Cube which comes in plastic casing and a large cardboard box.

Commenting, Jo said:

This Rubik's cube has far more packaging than it needs.“At the end of Christmas Day we all end up with an abundance of packaging to throw away – whether it’s from food, gifts or crackers, it all adds up. But how much of that packaging was really necessary in the first place?”

“Excess packaging imposes a triple cost on us as consumers – we pay for it at the checkout counter, we pay for it to be disposed of and we bear the environmental costs. Manufacturers have a legal responsibility to minimise their packaging and to ensure as much of it as possible can be recycled. The examples I have highlighted demonstrate that this is clearly not happening, and I’m sure members of the public can come up with even worse examples.

“It is not all doom and gloom though – I have also picked out some good examples of gifts which are minimally packaged but still maximum fun.”

Key facts:

• The Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2003 require all packaging put on the market to be “limited to the minimum adequate amount to maintain the necessary level of safety, hygiene and acceptance for the packed product and for the consumer” and to be designed to “permit its reuse or recovery, including recycling”.

• The UK Government’s Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP) says that families in the UK now spend some £470 on packaging each year – one sixth of their food budget.

• Most packaging which is not recycled goes straight into landfill. Landfill sites produce methane, which is twenty times more dangerous a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

• Every UK household is currently paying £30 a year in landfill taxes alone.

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