Thursday, 7 May 2009

Too much packaging - maybe your council can help!

Sometimes I forget that the reason East Sussex and Brighton councils are so keen to build their new waste incinerator at Newhaven is, primarily, because there's simply too much rubbish being produced in the first place.

And so much of that waste is packaging, deliberately-produced boxes, bags and wrappings designed to be eye-catching and convey brand-identity at a glance, but rarely to minimise rubbish.

But there are rules: excess packaging is outlawed by Trading Standards regulations.

According to The Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2003 (as amended), packaging volume and weight must be the minimum amount to maintain necessary levels of safety, hygiene and acceptance for the packed product and for the consumer.

So, in theory, every council in the country has a role in enforcing these regulations - and taking excess packaging off the shop shelves.

The practise is slightly different, of course. Brighton and Hove City Council can't even keep our streets free of uncollected rubbish, so what hope can we have that it'll keep the marketing machine in check and cut the city's packaging waste.

But to be fair, the council has now, eventually, produced its new waste plan. It doesn't look like it'll do much to bring an increasingly chaotic rubbish and recycling service under control, but it does set a target of encouraging complaints about excess packaging and investigating 20 cases a year.

So perhaps we can all do our bit by reporting any goods sold in too much guff.

Here's my contribution: the packaging for a Bach's herbal remedy: the box is more than twice as big as it needs to be - it even has a little fold to help it keep it's shape!

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