Image: Jo Swinson, MP
There is a law, but you wouldn't know it to look at the Easter displays. After some years of watching diverging regulation develop in Member States, the EU passed the Directive 94/62/EC, on packaging and packaging waste. In a nutshell (or is that a plastic-lined cardboard clamshell?), the law requires that each Member State require producers to reduce packaging to the minimum necessary. Clearly, the governments are failing to enforce packaging requirements. Good thing MP Jo Swinson, of East Dunbartonshire in the United Kingdom, is on task. Thanks to her efforts, consumers can see for themselves the chocolate FAILS and where minimum packaging prevails.Chocolate Challenge
Jo Swinson asks: Do you want chocolate or packaging this Easter? She has asked the questions four years in succession. 2010 ranked poorly, with a disappointing 4% reduction in packaging overall. But a reduction of over a third from 2008 to 2009 has left a number of manufacturers at status quo, including fair trade favorite Green & Black's. Despite the lack of efforts in the previous year, Swinson admits that Green & Black's remains "the greenest on offer" from a packaging perspective.
Nestle, Mars, and Cadbury are highlighted in the report for efforts made in cooperation with the non-profit WRAP's Seasonal Confectionary Working Group, as well as for corporate strategies setting measurable goals and integrating packaging reduction into their marketing strategies.
For example, Cadbury and Mars eliminated all molded plastic from their ranges, while Nestle reduced molded plastic 90%. Nestle also gets credit as the "only company whose Easter egg packaging was 100% widely recycled (sic recyclable)." The others fail on plastics in the packaging, as these are rated as "not widely recycled."
Ironically, the chocolate companies themselves provide proof that they are not limiting packaging to the minimum needed:
- Cadbury's green award-winning "Eco-Eggs" are proving successful with consumers in spite of minimal foil packaging;
- Lindt's Gold Bunny constitutes 55% of Easter sales, wearing only a thin coat of gold-colored foil; and
- Nestle's Milkybar Cow similarly wears a thin foil cow suit.
In 2010, Guylian knocked Lindt off the throne for "most excessively packaged egg," after Lindt held the title for three years running. The Guylian chocolate egg takes up a mere 9% of its box. The smaller chocolates accompanying the egg are packaged in plastic, in their own box, inside of the larger box. Guylian give no instructions on how to get the whole mess to a recycler.
Lindt improved in 2010 overall, with the ratio of egg weight to packaging weight up 4%. Lindt's former excessive packaging prize winner still takes up only 11% of its packaging. And little recycling info is given. Lir, the maker of the Bailey's egg shown in the image above, failed to provide any evidence of a strategy for reducing packaging. Along with Sainsbury's, Tesco, and Guylian, Lir failed to respond to many requests from Ms. Swinson.
Swinson admits that Easter packaging is just the tip of the iceberg, but embraces the holiday symbols as an opportunity to re-evaluate progress and commitment to an important principle of sustainability. See the full Easter egg packaging report (pdf) for all the details and letters from several manufacturers defining their strategies.
More on Easter and the Environment:
Fairtrade Green & Black's
Future Food Comes to the White House Easter Egg Roll
Easter Candy Insanity is Still Here But the Packaging is Slimming Down
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