Wasteful food packaging has been a well-known problem for some time, but with the mid-autumn festival around the corner, companies around China have been stepping up promotions of their products and added celebratory wrapping. This time around, glass and timber boxes are among the most popular types of such packaging.
Of the three million tons of trash that Beijing produces annually, packaging accounts for 830,000 tons of which 600,000 tons can be categorized as excessive packaging. If industrial waste is subtracted, packaging makes up one third of the total garbage produced and more than half of that number can be attributed to overly extravagant bags and boxes.
Annually, such packaging in itself amounts to hundreds of billions of RMB and the costs are mostly passed on to the end-customer. So far, the government’s actions to curb this wasteful practice (e.g. environmental information videos) have not led to any substantial rethinking.
In March of 2010, the General Administration of Quality Supervision and the Standardization Administration of China issued a new national standard regarding “requirements for limiting excessive packaging in food and cosmetics” that was put into effect starting in April last year. According to the standard, no more than three layers of packaging are allowed and only a maximum of 60% of the container is permitted to be empty. Moreover, the cost for additional packaging should not exceed 20% of the price of the product.
To date, none of these standards have been enforced and it is still unclear which governmental office is responsible.