Festive packaging will create 3m tonnes of waste

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The Independent Online

Three million tonnes of rubbish will be thrown away by families during Christmas, with as much as three-quarters of children's presents amounting to nothing more than plastic and cardboard packaging.

Trading standards officers and MPs called on manufacturers to cut the piles of plastic, card and wire used to wrap millions of toys after a survey found three-quarters of toys came wrapped in at least their own weight in packaging.

In the worst case a toy came with nearly five times its own weight in packaging, the study, by officers from six councils in the North-west, found.

They warned that as much as half of the packaging around toys was non recyclable plastic and ties.

Dawn Robinson, a trading standards officer at Lancashire County Council, said she and her colleagues were "shocked" by their findings.

Officials are writing to manufacturers warning them to cut the amount of packaging used to wrap toys, warning the excess plastic will fill landfill sites and add to global warming.

Trading standards officers bought 25 popular toys and weighed the goods and their packets to determine the scale of packaging used.

The worst offender in the survey was a Bratz camping tent toy, which had 601 grammes of packaging to protect a 120g toy.

A Disney flying Peter Pan, pictured, had 270g of packaging around a toy weighing just 109g while a Dr Who sonic screwdriver weighing just 65g had 137 grammes of wrapping.

Ms Robinson said: "Half of the packaging is cardboard which can be recycled but the rest is all sorts of different types of plastic, more than 30 types."

Toy manufacturers insist packaging is necessary to prevent damage to goods and say the cost of shipping products from China gives firms a strong incentive to keep waste to a minimum.

Yesterday the Local Government Association warned that excess packaging helped swell the estimated three million tonnes of rubbish thrown away by English families each Christmas. The festive season accounts for an extra 750 million glass containers and 500 million drinks cans as well as up to one billion Christmas cards and enough wrapping paper to cover the island of Guernsey.

Paul Bettison, Chairman of the Local Government Association Environment Board, said: "Celebrations around the country will generate millions of tonnes of rubbish this Christmas.

"People are working hard to increase their recycling rates but their efforts are being hamstrung over the Christmas period by excessive packaging on products in shops and supermarkets. Much of this cannot be recycled.

"We all have a responsibility to reduce the amount of waste being thrown into landfill, which is damaging the environment.