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January 18, 2013

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Packaging inspection unwraps on new law

THE packaging of cakes, cosmetics and health products will be closely examined by authorities when a local law banning excess packaging will take effect as of next month, officials said yesterday.

Those products are the ones most often sold with too much packaging, official said.

Local residents are encouraged to report excess packaging via three public service hotlines - 12345, 12365 and 12315 - and violators will be fined up to 50,000 yuan (US$8,045), according to Shen Weimin, deputy director of the Shanghai Quality and Technical Supervision Bureau.

"Though there so far is no reward for tips, we believe public supervision will effectively cut down on unnecessary packaging," Shen said.

Recycling stations also will be set up at local shopping malls soon to recycle product wrappings, said Gu Jiahe, vice chairman at the Shanghai Commission of Commerce.

"The commission will also encourage waste recycling companies to sign deals with local retailers for packaging recycling," Gu said.

The new law, the first among Chinese cities, aims to trim unnecessary use of resources and reduce waste, according to Shanghai People's Congress, the city's lawmaking body.

The standards on "excessive packaging" specify the number of layers of packaging papers, the maximum percentage of packaging cost to the goods' value, and the allowed ratio of empty space inside boxes.

The biggest problem with many products is the amount of empty space, especially those often presented as gifts like moon cakes, health products and tea, Shen said.

After receiving reports from the public, the bureau or the city's food and drug safety watchdog will dispatch officers and the sellers will be asked to stopping selling the products and possibly face fines if the report is confirmed, Shen said.

Regular inspections will be undertaken of products sold in the city while those who violate the new law will be publicized via local media and the website of the bureau, he added.

The law allows fining only sellers. There needs to be another law from the nation's lawmakers to punish manufacturers to curb the problem from the source, said Chen Zhaofeng, a local lawmaker. China currently restricts packaging of moon cakes and cosmetics, though no punishment is mandated.


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