Supermarkets must act to reduce excessive packaging or Britain will fail to meet its recycling targets, a new report warns today.
The research – published by the Local Government Association (LGA) – reveals that up to 40% of the packaging in a regular household shopping basket can’t be recycled.
Researchers bought 29 common food items representing a regular shopping basket from Asda, Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, a local retailer and a market.
The survey found that Marks & Spencer was the retailer which used the lowest percentage of packaging (60%) which could be recycled.
Lidl was the worst offender when it came to total volume of packaging used, with a basket of groceries using 799.5g.
Marks & Spencer used the second highest total amount of packaging at 782g for a basket of 29 goods. Morrisons was third worst, with 779g per basket, the LGA said.
On average, 5% of the total weight of all the shopping baskets’ content was packaging.
Tesco used the least packaging by weight: 684.5g per basket.
The local market and local shop had the highest proportion of packaging which could be recycled – both at 79% of the total amount used.
Councillor Paul Bettison, Chairman of the LGA’s Environment Board, said: ‘People are working hard to increase their recycling rates, but their efforts are being hamstrung by needlessly over-packaged products on sale in supermarkets.
‘We all have a responsibility to reduce the amount of waste being thrown into landfill, which is damaging the environment and contributing to climate change.
‘Many supermarkets are taking action to cut back on excessive packaging, but this research proves there is an urgent need to do more.’
Marks & Spencer’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility Mike Barry said: ‘We’ve set ourselves clear and demanding targets to reduce our packaging and only use materials that can be easily recycled or composted.
‘While we’ve made good progress over the last 12 months, we know there’s still much more yet to do in both areas.’
A recent Which? report found that supermarkets are achieving some success in cutting down on plastic bags.
In our results, the most successful stores at cutting down on their carrier bags are Tesco (down 15% in 12 months), Waitrose (down 14%) and Somerfield (down 10%).
At the same time, however, some stores are seeing an increase in plastic bag use – Aldi (up 16%) and Marks and Spencer (up 10% to 15%).