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How can we crack the problem of Easter egg packaging?

Boxed and 'boxless' Easter eggs

Be honest – how much waste have your Easter eggs created today? It’s easy to get lured by the big boxes, but they contribute to thousands of tonnes of waste every year, so shouldn’t we be finding fuss-free treats?

Earlier this week Richard Dilks revealed the best and worst examples of supermarket packaging, and highlighted Easter eggs as a product that’s fast improving.

Cadburys has introduced boxless eggs, and judging by the 75% increase in sales, people aren’t sorry to see the back of them. Plus, there’s been no increase in breakages compared to boxed eggs, which will hopefully encourage other reluctant manufacturers to understand that less can be more.

Reducing egg waste – a potted history

So why the turnaround? In 2006, Wrap set up the Seasonal Confectionary Working Group (made up of leading confectionary brands, manufacturers and retailers) and aimed at reducing packaging on seasonal sweets.

Easter eggs came out top of the list in their 2008 poll on ‘public attitudes to packaging’, so they decided it was time to sweeten our perception. Since then, Cadbury has reduced packaging on its medium-sized eggs by 25%, resulting in 220 tonnes less plastic and 250 tonnes less card.

I don’t know about you, but I’m staggered that this amount of waste can be generated by a quarter of the packaging on medium-sized Cadburys’ eggs alone. Sadly, it’s more than feasible when you look at the total waste generated by chocolate egg packaging – a whopping 3,000 tonnes a year and that’s in the UK alone.

Ditch the egg-stras

So there’s clearly a long way still to go, as a quick look around the Easter egg shop displays proves. But why is it such a slow process? Do some egg-eaters still feel a bit short changed by an egg that doesn’t come in a grand box? Maybe manufacturers can’t justify the hefty price tags unless all the little egg-stras (sorry) are displayed in a deluxe plastic case?

So here’s my suggestion… let’s all vow to make our egg choices based on the packaging (or lack of) from now on. Don’t be swayed by big, fancy boxes or enticed by all the little extras. Then it will only be our waists, not our waste, that we’ll have to feel guilty about next year.

Comments
Profile photo of wavechange
Member

The simplest solution is not to buy Easter eggs. I have done my bit.

Profile photo of dave d
Member

Hear Hear! Well said Wavechange.

We only buy eggs because no one can remember what Easter is really about and, wether you are religious or not (frankly I’m not, but there you go), it’s not actually about Eggs and “treats”.

The reason the packing got so big is consumer driven market place competition and now that “less is more” is a fashionable message I expect the reverse will be true.

If you really must give an egg why not but one of the beautifully decorated hollow cardboard ones that are many shops again this year and fill it with some home made goodies like home baked biscuits, home made buns or maybe a longer lasting and less fattening home made item? I have not bought eggs since I was about 20 (and that’s almost quarter of a century ago now) but this year, as my Niece now has a baby son, I did think about it for the first time since 1985 (I didn’t buy him an egg, at 5 months old he doesn’t need chocolate and doesn’t yet understand Easter) but next year I’ll probably give him a cardboard one with some small token inside it.

Profile photo of Hannah Jolliffe
Member

Oh Dave, you killjoy! (Although I like your idea of a more personalised egg.)

There’s an interesting breakdown of who has the greenest Easter eggs in the Independent, showing the percentage of chocolate by volume of the weight : http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/news/easter-eggs-get-smaller-but-dont-worry-its-only-the-boxes-2273739.html

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Hannah – I think you are a bit hard on Dave.

Easter is an important religious festival for many people but (like Christmas) it has been hijacked by rampant consumerism. There are other ways of providing treats for family and friends without giving them low quality, overpriced and overpackaged chocolate eggs that are mass produced by large multinational companies and stacked on supermarket shelves.

Profile photo of Hannah Jolliffe
Member

I know wavechange, I was only jesting – Dave makes good points… I’m such a chocoholic that it must bring out my consumerist inner beast!

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

It’s part of the human condition and many men are fond of chocolate too. I’m sure you like decent chocolate, but what goes into mass market Easter eggs is rather mediocre.

Member
Sophie Gilbert says:
5 May 2011

This year I’ve bought four easter eggs and they were all simply packaged in aluminium foil, not plastic and no cardboard box.