Britain cracks down on excess packaging

The New York Times reports that the Lincolnshire, England County Council has sued a local supermarket chain for “excessive packaging” of particular cuts of beef, claiming that the packaging violates British law.

British regulations on excess packaging first took effect in 2003 in an effort to reduce waste, particularly items that cannot be recycled and go into a landfill. Those rules, strengthened two years ago in response to environmental concerns and an awareness that the nation’s landfills were reaching their limits, now require that producers keep packaging to the minimum required for “products’ safety, hygiene and consumer acceptance.”

British local governments pay a tax of $100 for every ton of landfilled garbage, meaning that excess packaging puts local communities at risk of higher taxes.  The Times story cites government reports that a 2005 voluntary corporate pledge to reduce packaging has resulted in a reduction of  more than 1.3 million tons of food and packaging waste and 3.6 tons of carbon dioxide emissions in the manufacturing, transport and disposal of materials.

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