Recycling Association: Supermarkets Could ‘Do More’ to Reduce Packaging Waste

Recycling Association: Supermarkets Could ‘Do More’ to Reduce Packaging Waste

The Recycling Association has said it believes that supermarkets could be doing a lot more to reduce packaging waste than they currently are.

The Association’s president went on a tour of some of the UK’s biggest stores to look at product packaging, from the good, to the bad, and downright ugly.

He approved of Mark’s and Spencer’s apples in an easily recycled cardboard tube, but he’s not so keen on the company’s sandwiches. The film window in the front of the sandwich is the issue. If the whole packaging is put into the recycling bin, the film will end up being incinerated, and it can’t be recycled as plastic, as the cardboard turns to pulp and causes problems. He said the problem could be fixed by putting sandwiches in a purely cardboard box with a picture on the front.

Moving on to the store’s sausage rolls, he approves of products in a plastic tub as it’s made of one material and easier to recycle, compared to another pack made of cardboard with a film window.

The budget supermarket Lidl fares better. Being a budget store, its packaging is simpler. The supermarket has been gradually removing black plastic from some of its products, though some products are still sold in this packaging. The company said it will have stopped using black plastic by August this year. Black plastics can’t be recycled because sorting machines can’t ‘see’ it.

Every material impacts on the environment

Mr Curtis said that packaging is needed, but there needs to be a simpler and more collaborative approach. He added that any material has an impact on the environment, though plastic is still one of the toughest and most problematic materials to recycle.

Some of the worst packaging offenders:

Tesco conference pears

They’re packaged in three types of non-recyclable plastic. The pears sit on a plastic foam tray, surrounded by laminated plastic film, and a plastic shield.

Capri Sun pouches

Layers of different plastics are used in the pouches so they aren’t recyclable.

Marks and Spencer sandwiches and sausage rolls

The plastic film window and the cardboard are individually recyclable, but can’t be separated if the entire box is put in the bin. As a result, either the film or cardboard is incinerated as waste.

Lidl Deluxe pork sausages

The sausages sit on a black tray which can’t be recycled, so would mostly likely be incinerated. Black plastic also can’t be dyed like other plastics, so it’s not seen as valuable in terms of being reusable.

Share: