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Council swoops on Office World for “overpackaging”

Northamptonshire County Council's trading standards service has prosecuted stationery retailer Office World for using an excessive amount of packaging.

Trading standards officers made three test purchases from the company’s website in November 2003 and January 2004 and found that each used too much packaging, with the products only filling a small part – ranging from 7-29% – of the supplied box.

The company pleaded guilty to one offence in September. However, the two other purchases were also taken into consideration and the company was fined £2,000 plus costs.

Councillor James Ashton, cabinet member responsible for the council’s trading standards, says: “Even in terms of its weight, retail packaging makes up a quarter or more of all household waste. For the benefit of future generations, we all need to do all we can to reduce the waste we create and to recycle as much as we can.”

Trading standards officers have a duty to enforce the Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2003. Companies who contravene the regulations can be fined up to £5,000 for each offence.

Jane Bickerstaffe, director of the Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment (Incpen), says: “We welcome this decision. It is important that companies act responsibly by using appropriate amounts of packaging – and that they are brought to task if they step out of line.”