It’s Easter, so it’s time for Jo Swinson’s annual Eggs-cess packaging report

by Stephen Tall on April 2, 2010

2010 marks the fourth year of Jo Swinson’s annual Easter Egg excess packaging report. (You can read LDV’s 2009 posting here). This year’s headline conclusion? “Some Easter egg manufacturers have drastically cut their excess packaging, while others are lagging far behind.”

Jo explains her campaign further on her website:

Consumers are tired of excess packaging – they are tired of paying for it and tired of having to dispose of it. Easter eggs are a prime example – in many cases, the huge boxes contain more air than chocolate.

“Last year we saw Easter egg packaging reduced by a third, and companies such as Nestlé, Cadbury, Green and Black’s and Thorntons have made real efforts to cut packaging and improve recyclability. However, Guylian, Lindt and others are still producing grossly excessive packaging.

“The Government is clearly failing to enforce the law, which requires packaging to be reduced to the minimum necessary.”

You can read Jo’s full 2010 report here – here’s the executive summary:

    Few would dispute that Easter eggs are a prime example of excessive packaging. This study makes comparisons between ten Easter eggs measured in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 including both major manufacturers’ products and supermarkets’ own brands. The dimensions and weights of the eggs and their packaging have been measured, and the packaging material examined and environmental information recorded.

    The study has found:

      · Overall average weight of packaging is down 4% this year
      · Several companies made big leaps forward last year in reducing their packaging, but some manufacturers are still failing to catch up
      · Nestlé is the only company whose Easter egg packaging was 100% widely recycled. Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Guylian and Green & Black’s have all produced packaging which is technically 100% recyclable, but they contain contain plastic, which is not widely recycled
      · Guylian produced the most excessively packaged egg this year, taking up only 9% of its box. Guylian supplanted Lindt which held the title for three years running
      · Increasing numbers of Easter chocolates come wrapped only in foil – including Cadbury’s ‘Eco-Eggs’, Lindt chocolate bunnies and Nestlé’s Milkybar hollow chocolate cow

Jo’s report has been prominently covered, including in The Voice’s favourite read, Packagingnews.co.uk, though its editor Josh Brooks dissents from Jo’s campaign in his column:

I would take Swinson up on the statements she makes on Easter eggs and their packaging. First, she says that “the huge boxes contain more air than chocolate”. Well, that may be true. But – and forgive me if I’m wrong here – it’s just as true to say that Easter eggs contain more air than chocolate. Even the ones in minimal or widely-recycled packaging. So why don’t we give our loved ones Yorkie or Mars bars at Easter?

The answer is simple: unlike the majority of food products, Easter eggs are gifts. Their packaging and their form exist to make them feel special. They are not symbolic of the food or packaging industry’s failure to green up their products, or of some industry-wide conspiracy to force people to use more packaging. They are presents. And if the real problem is that people buy things they don’t need, then that’s the subject of a book, not a blog or an MP’s report.

… if the public was as angry about them as Swinson is suggesting, I have a suggestion of my own as to what would happen: no-one would buy them.