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China’s Excessive Packaging law explained

China is the only country in the world that has imposed legislation to control excessive packaging. These sustainable packaging regulations are aimed at reducing the amount of packaging material used, cutting the volume of discarded packaging that ends up in municipal landfill and also act as a Chinese consumer protection measure to prohibit deceptive retail packaging.

Packaging Excesses
China’s packaging industry has been growing by more than 14% annually, and contributes about 2.4% to the national GDP. In 2010, China’s retail sales grew by 18.4%.

This rapid growth does not come without a cost: According to a recent report from the China Science Centre of the International Eurasian Academy of Sciences, the country accounts for 30.6% of the world's household waste - producing more than 152 million tonness annually. In recent years, the volume of discarded packaging has been increasing by 8-10% annually.

The treatment of household garbage has become a serious financial liability for city administrators: Beijing's population of 20 million produces nearly 20,000 tons of garbage every day, overburdening its 23 municipal waste treatment plants. To cope with this waste mountain, the city authorities plan to build an additional 17 treatment plants by 2015, at a cost of Euro 1.11 billion (US$1.15 billion / RMB 10 billion).

Beijing’s landfills now occupy around 1,300 hectares of land; this is growing by more than 33 hectares annually – within three years the city’s landfill sites will be completely full.

In answer to this urban problem of packaging waste, Central Government Introduced the excessive packaging regulations in 2010. Initially covering beverage packaging, cosmetic packaging and selected food and bakery products packaging, these regulations;

  • Limit the number of packaging layers permitted to three.
  • Restrict the permitted headspace (void-space) volume.
  • Specify a maximum ratio between the cost of the packaging and the retail product price.

An understanding of these regulations is vital for both brand owners and packaging suppliers selling, or producing, in the Chinese domestic market.




1 February 2011 - Felicity Murray