Lawmakers restrict wasteful packaging

Updated: 2012-03-01 07:38

By Zhao Yinan (China Daily)

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BEIJING - Lawmakers passed an amendment to restrict excessive packaging and promote clean production on Wednesday.

The Amendment to the Law on the Promotion of Clean Production, which will take effect in July, makes companies responsible for avoiding excessive packaging and making sure that the "material, arrangement and cost" of the packaging are in line with the products.

Excessive packaging, which wastes resources and causes pollution, has been on the rise in China, and about 20 percent of trash in China is from discarded wrapping material, said Wang Guangtao, director of the National People's Congress' Environment and Resource Protection Committee.

Lawmakers restrict wasteful packaging

A worker organizes recycled moon cake packages at a supermarket in Jiashan, Zhejiang province, on Sept 19, a week after the Mid-Autumn Festival. [Hu Lingxiang / for China Daily]

"Excessive packaging has raised wide concerns as the products are usually high-priced, especially food, so the practice infringes upon consumers' rights," he said.

Wang said he found cookies in Denmark, for example, may not be packaged in metal containers, a stark contrast with in China, but "a good way to avoid excessive packaging".

To increase the supervision, the amendment calls for local quality watchdogs to be responsible for checking whether companies might use excessive packaging.

However, the law does not give a clear definition of what constitutes excessive packaging.

Dong Jinshi, executive vice-president of the International Food Packaging Association, a Hong Kong-based nongovernment organization, said since the law is more a guideline on promoting clean production, it is "understandable" that it can hardly give explicit requirements on specific products.

"It is almost impossible to lay out specific requirements one by one, since there are just too many kinds of products," he said, adding that the State Council issued a regulation on packaging in April 2011.

The regulation exclusively requires that packages can be no more than three layers, and the cost of wrapping should be less than 20 percent of the value of the product.

Dong suggested producers label types and cost of their packaging, as they do with nutrition facts, to inform consumers and avoid lawsuits.

The Law on the Promotion of Clean Production, which took effect in 2003, aims to reduce waste and pollutants during production and to increase production efficiency.

Cao Yin contributed to this story.