Space Tax

Excessive packaging in manufacturing can cause all sorts of problems. It can be misleding to consumers implying the product has more content than it actually has. It fills up space in shops making less room for other products. This is especially important to small shop owners who have limited space. Excessive packaging is also bad for the environment. It also costs more money for manufacturers to make larger boxes. A tax on empty space inside packaging could be one way for businesses to be more eco-friendly.

Businesses might argue that they often need to use fancy misleading packaging in order to compete with other businesses doing the same. However, if they were all put in the same boat it would undermine this argument. Even if such a tax were not politically viable, the simple threat that such a tax could happen would incentivise manufacturers to consider making a change. It would also encourage new start-ups to be as efficient as possible from the very beginning.

Certain products might have legitimate arguments for using empty space If such a policy were to be experimented with. Sometimes air can have a protective cushioning or insulating effect. Air bubbles in wine bottles help aroma and taste. However, a space tax wouldn't have to be done on all products at once. It could be developed one step at a time. This type of policy would also help undermine shrinkflation whereby manufacturers pull a fast one when they reduce the amount of food normally sold inside a box that consumers have gotten used to e.g., chocolate fingers going from 24 to 22 chocolate fingers while keeping the same box size and price.

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Author: David Tierney. Send tips or suggestions to