Best and worst Easter egg packaging revealed
PUBLISHED: 15:01 01 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:19 02 July 2010
As thousands of Norfolk families get set to tuck into their chocolate eggs this Easter, consumers are being warned they could end up shelling out more money for less chocolate.
As thousands of Norfolk families get set to tuck into their chocolate eggs this Easter, consumers are being warned they could end up shelling out more money for less chocolate. Kim Briscoe reports.
They may look impressive in their large fancy boxes, but some Easter eggs can be decidedly disappointing when the packaging is unwrapped.
They can end up not only costing you in the pocket, but also costing the earth if the packaging is not recyclable.
This year Norfolk County Council Trading Standards Officers have been looking to ensure that consumers do not receive more packaging than egg.
The worst offender used non-recyclable material that amounted to a third of the amount of the overall packaging - with the packaging itself weighing in at 41pc of the overall weight of the product (74g of 179g).
Eight Easter egg manufacturers, all based outside of Norfolk, have been written to by the department as part of a project that has seen officers assessing the weight of packaging when compared to the weight of the egg itself, and how much of that packaging either comes from recycled material and/or is recyclable.
Local trading standards services are responsible for enforcing laws designed to minimise the amount of packaging that producers use and for ensuring that packaging is maximised for recycling.
As part of the project 19 eggs were purchased from high street stores - produced by a variety of different manufacturers and varying from own brand to premium products.
Some of the eggs tested had no packaging at all - simply sold as a foil-wrapped egg - with the packaging only seven per cent of the total weight of the product - and the foil recyclable.
Nearly all the cardboard-packaged, but foil-wrapped, eggs, were made completely with recyclable material, but varied in the weight of the packaging when compared to the product itself.
Ann Jackson, Norfolk County Council senior trading standards officer, said it was important for consumers to get value for money, and to be able to recycle the packaging too.
She said: “On the whole manufacturers are using materials that can be recycled, or that comes from recycled material, and to that regard the packaging is environmentally friendly on the whole.
“However there are some manufacturers who are still using too large an amount of packaging compared to the weight of the product itself, with the worst offender we found having the packaging weighing over 40pc of the weight of the whole product.
"Consumers are paying for all that packaging and while this isn't a case of people being duped into thinking that the egg is bigger than it actually is, ultimately that material has to be disposed of - and in some cases parts of the packaging still aren't recyclable material.
"We've sought reassurance from the manufacturers in question that they are considering these issues and residents can also play a part by checking whether the box clearly displays that the material used has come from recycled materials or is recyclable."
Norfolk County Council Trading Standards has written to eight manufacturers and their respective local trading standards services, suggesting that in officers' opinions the products appear to use a significant amount of packaging compared with the actual quantity of the product and have requested details from the companies that demonstrate that they have made efforts to comply with the relevant legislation.
For the past few years, Scottish MP Jo Swinson, a member of the Environmental Audit Select Committee, has been assessing the packaging of Easter eggs.
She said that in 2010 some Easter egg manufacturers have drastically cut their excess packaging, while others are lagging far behind.
She said that 2009 companies such as Nestlé and Cadbury made huge reductions to the packaging of their Easter eggs, but this year certain companies are still marketing grossly over-packaged eggs.
Guylian comes out worst, with its egg taking up just 9pc of its box.
Sainsbury's has the most efficient packaging this year, while Nestlé had the only egg surveyed whose packaging is 100pc widely recycled.
She said: “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."
Eggs with the highest proportion of confectionery to wrapping:
t Sainsbury's - 60pc chocolate to packaging
t House of Commons - 56pc
t Green & Black's - 41pc
t Thorntons - 40pc
t Marks & Spencer - 34pc
Eggs with the lowest proportion of confectionery to wrapping:
t Guylian - 9pc chocolate to packaging
t Lindt - 11pc
t Bailey's - 14pc
t Cadbury - 19pc
t Mars - 26pc
t Nestlé - 27pc
RECYCLABILITY TOP FIVE
t Green & Black's
t Tesco Finest
t House of Commons