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Overpackaged gifts targeted amid anti-waste campaign


10:49, February 09, 2013

BEIJING, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- As China's gift market enjoys a boom prior to the approaching Spring Festival, the problem of overpackaging still lingers despite the ongoing campaign to promote frugality in the country.

A survey in a gift shop conducted this week by the People's Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China, found that the packaging of luxuriously tea, priced at about 10,000 yuan (1,590 U.S. dollars), weighed 2.5 kilos. However, the tea weighed only about 100 grams.

Although the problem has long been criticized, it has provoked more opposition this year due to a campaign to advocate a frugal lifestyle and avoid extravagance and waste in the country.

National broadcaster China Central Television also joined in the movement, calling on the public not to buy heavily-wrapped goods.

It is estimated that overpackaging costs the country about 400 billion yuan every year.

In 2010, a national standard to regulate the excessive packaging in the food and cosmetics sectors was launched but the problem in the gift market is still rampant.

"I bought a set of swaddling clothes for my children. It was put in a huge box and dozens of pins were used to fix the clothes in the case. Overpackaging is not only wasteful but also dangerous," Internet user "Mufuguiziluo" said in a post on the Twitter-like Sina Weibo microblogging service.

Dong Jinshi, vice president of the International Foodpackaging Association, said unnecessary packaging was also environmentally hazardous as it wastes resources and also causes problems in recycling.

He said flashy packages are often made from inferior materials that are very hard to decompose in the natural environment.

Products wrapped in fancy packages are often more attractive, thus more lucrative in the market, said Tan Kejian, a sociologist from the Shanxi Academy of Social Sciences.

People are also more inclined to buy such goods for gifts, as they believe decent packaging will make the products more presentable, Tan said.

"If the gift is very exquisite or holds high value, then both the sender and receiver feel honored." Dong said.

The problem is worsened by consumption involving the arbitrary use of public money.

The People's Daily survey quoted a shop assistant at an alcohol section of a different store. The assistant said the flashier the package, the better the alcohol sells, adding that a government department bought 20 bottles as presents.

Both Dong and Tan have called for stricter law and government regulations to solve the problem.

This month, Shanghai launched a local regulation to reduce unneeded packaging of products and violators will be subjected to fines of up to 50,000 yuan.

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