Council leaders are calling for tougher laws and bigger fines to crack down on firms that use excessive packaging.
The Local Government Association (LGA) and Lacors, which advises and supports trading standards services, report that packaging waste increased by 12 per cent from 1999 to 2005. The groups fear that if the increase continues taxpayers will be forced to pay millions each year to deal with the excess waste.
Around five million tonnes of annual household rubbish is used packaging – making up almost one fifth of all household waste.
However council leaders are calling for tougher laws to stop firms from using excessive packaging.
"The law which is supposed to ban excessive packaging is a toothless tiger. The fact that there have only been four successful prosecutions in the UK demonstrates the law simply isn’t working," said Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, chairman of the LGA.
One of the four cases involved a Cambridgeshire customer who bought a tin of Cadbury's Giant Chocolate Fingers which were not actually giant, but just in a much larger tin. The company responsible, Burton's Foods, was fined £5,000.
"A maximum fine of £5,000 is a drop in the ocean for big companies. Only serious fines will act as a genuine deterrent to over-packaging," urged Mr Bruce-Lockhart.
"People power is now needed to put pressure on producers to cut down wasteful packaging."
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