Half of plastic supermarket packaging cannot be recycled, Which? Survey finds

22nd June 2019 | Recycling

Half of plastic supermarket packaging cannot be recycled, a study by Which? Has found. Researchers analysed the packaging of 46 of the most popular own-brand items from leading supermarkets including Asda, M&S, Morrisons, and Waitrose. They found that only 52 per cent of the packaging – including cardboard, glass and plastics – could be easily put in household recycling bins.

Morrisons was the worst offender, as 61 per cent of its packaging that Which? Examined was not easily recyclable. The best supermarkets were Tesco and Waitrose – as only 40 per cent of the packaging could not be easily recycled. The study also found that 42 per cent of the total supermarket packaging was labelled either incorrectly or not at all, making it difficult for well-intentioned consumers and increasing the changes of it ending up in landfill.

Supermarket Packaging

Which? Is calling on the government to make recycling labelling simple, clear and mandatory and ensure the necessary infrastructure is in place to make it easy for everyone to recycle. The consumer champion urged all the supermarkets to commit to ensuring a much greater proportion of their packaging is recyclable, rather than continuing to use environmentally unfriendly single-use, throwaway materials.

The study also examined the quality of recycling labelling. Iceland had the worst record for labelling, with only 38 percent of packaging examined by Which? Was correctly labelled. The supermarket’s easy peeler oranges which use type of plastic netting that cannot be recycled were not labelled at all, investigators found.

Of the other supermarkets, M&S had 43 per cent of the products labelled correctly, whilst Ocado had 44 per cent and Waitrose 47 per cent. Asda led the way, demonstrating that recycling labelling can be done well, with eight in ten items of packaging that Which? Experts looked at correctly labelled.

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