Sep 08 – Excessive Packaging Update

Man in the street says:

Why don’t Trading Standards prosecute companies that use excessive packaging, after all the law already exists to do this?

Vision replies:

From a Trading standards perspective existing legislation enables prosecution of companies that use excessive packaging, but local authorities that have tried to take companies to task have found that the wording of the law makes it very difficult to take successful prosecutions. The burden of proof is very high.

The legislation controlling excessive packaging is the Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2003 (as amended), which come from an EU directive. This requires that anyone packing or filling products into packaging, or importing packed or filled packaging into the United Kingdom, must not place that packaging on the market unless that packaging fulfils the ‘essential requirements’, and is within the heavy metal concentration limits.

Essential requirements are that 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.

This is a bit vague but in addition packers and importers can set their own ‘performance criteria’ for packaging which includes:

  • Product protection
  • Packaging manufacture process
  • Packing or filling process
  • Logistics (including transport, warehousing and handling)
  • Product presentation and marketing
  • Consumer acceptance
  • Product information
  • Safety

This makes the legislation difficult to use and to date there have only been four prosecutions under the existing legislation.

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One Response

  1. Oh gosh!! Great information!! I didn’t even know such a directive existed!!
    So basically we’d need to bug the Green people in the EU senate etc to get the directive into a shapelier form?
    I really hate to see those individually wrapped broccolli – so wasteful! But the banana is even more horrible!!
    /I do wonder if the packaging people are in biz together with the incinerator people, grr!!/
    Thanks for the loadz of information in this blog!

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