Time to reduce our packaging excesses

Jacqui Kennedy, Acting Strategic Director for Place at Birmingham City Council, blogs about what is being done to reduce the amount of waste created by excess packaging on products we buy on a day-to-day basis…

Jacqui Kennedy

Jacqui Kennedy – Acting Strategic Director of Place

At some point in our lives, I am sure that like me, most readers of this blog will have bought something – whether from a shop or by mail order – and wondered if the packaging was too excessive.

It could be an Easter egg sold in a box the size of a breeze block, or a bath mat in a box three times the size of the product – we all know of examples from our own lives.

What may come as a surprise is the role Birmingham City Council can play in addressing this problem.

Under the Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2015, the council has enforcement powers which means this can be challenged and addressed by trading standards officers.

The regulations are complex and have many elements but, in summary, they state packaging volume and weight must be the minimum amount to maintain the necessary levels of safety and hygiene for the packed product and for the consumer.

Failure to comply could lead to a fine of up to £5,000 in the Magistrates’ court or an unlimited fine if a case is serious enough to go to Crown Court – so this is clearly not a jovial matter.

But this stage, given the latest version of the legislation is relatively new (having come into effect on October 1), we are on a fact-finding mission.

An example of a bath mat, packaged in what might be termed excess packaging

An example of a bath mat, packaged in what might be termed excess packaging

We want to understand the extent of the issue and find out what our citizens think of this.

What is sure is that if we carry out our duties effectively on this, we will be helping reduce the risk of littering and flytipping and using less of the earth’s precious resources.

This makes the environment in which we live cleaner and greener. It will also be saving taxpayer money as the council will need to spend less on cleaning the streets and in landfill charges.

To help us understand the scale of the issue in Birmingham, we’d like to hear from you – and want to see some examples of your own packaging nightmares.

If you’ve received a product wrapped in what you believe to be excess packaging, please tweet us a picture and details to @bhamcitycouncil using the hashtag #reducepackaging

In the future, using this evidence and other research we are conducting, we will publish a report on the issue and what we feel needs to be done next.

I look forward to hearing from you, so we can ensure things are done in the right way.

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There Are 2 Brilliant Comments

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  1. This excellent but how do you reduce packaging on what we find so much of – drink cans, bottles, crisp and confectionary packages?

    • Kris Kowalewski says:

      Hi Simon – I guess this all comes back to the law which says it must “be the minimum amount to maintain the necessary levels of safety and hygiene for the packed product and for the consumer”.

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