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England and Wales: Leading Supermarket Chain Prosecuted for Using Too Much Packaging for Its Products

(Sept. 22, 2010) A leading British supermarket chain, Sainsbury's, is to be prosecuted for using too much packaging on one of its products, according to a news report of September 17, 2010. The day before this announcement, the supermarket had revealed that it would no longer use boxes for its large range of breakfast cereals in an attempt to meet its target of reducing its use of packaging on its products by one-third by 2015 and to cut the carbon footprint of the “weekly shop.” The supermarket has already changed a number of its packaging methods, which range from moving milk from plastic bottles into thin bags and changing from cans to cartons for tomatoes.

The prosecution will be brought under the Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations, legislation that stems from a European Union directive that requires companies to reduce excessive packaging unless it is essential for safety, the protection of the health and hygiene of the packed products, or transport requirements. The head of the trading standards branch that is responsible for bringing the prosecution has been reported as saying that “excessive packaging caused unnecessary environmental damage and increased costs for recycling and landfill.” (Martin Hickman, Good News Day for Sainsbury's Is Buried by Packaging Row, THE INDEPENDENT (London) (Sept. 17, 2010),