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Half of supermarket packaging not easily recyclable, study finds | UK News



New research has found that nearly half of UK supermarket packaging cannot be easily recycled.

Forty-six of the most popular items from Aldi, Asda, Co-op, Iceland, Lidl, M&S, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose were looked at by consumer group Which?.

The study revealed that 52% of packaging can be easily recycled via household bins.

Pic: Which?
Pieces of packaging in an average shop. Pic: Which?

Morrisons had the least recyclable wrapping out of all the supermarket giants, with 61% of its items coming with non-recyclable plastic film, closely followed by Co-op at 58%.

Tesco and Waitrose came out top for the best recyclable packaging; however, 40% of their wrapping could not be easily recycled.

The research also found that the amount of packaging labelled either incorrectly or not at all was 42% – meaning the likelihood of it ending up in landfill was increased.

Iceland only had two in five products correctly labelled, with its easy peeler oranges not labelled at all despite including non-recyclable plastic netting.

Asda led the way by correctly labelling 78% of its items.

Natalie Hitchins, head of home products and services at Which?, said the research shows supermarkets and manufacturers can do more to banish single-use plastics and make sure that any packaging they do use is minimal, recyclable and correctly labelled.

She added: “To reduce the waste that goes to landfill, the government must make labelling mandatory, simple and clear as well as invest in better infrastructure to ensure that recycling is easy for everyone, regardless of where they live.”

Plastic bags and debris floating in the sea - Stock image
Plastic bags and debris floating in the sea
Products such as pasta and rice will be available in dispensers under the trial
Products such as pasta and rice will be available in dispensers under a Waitrose trial

A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokeswoman said: “Supermarkets have a clear responsibility to cut unnecessary packaging, reduce waste going to landfill, and increase the amount being recycled and recovered.

“Through our landmark Resources and Waste Strategy we have recently consulted on plans for a ‘one size fits all’ approach which would mean the same materials can be recycled in England no matter which part of the country people live in. We have also set out plans for consistent labelling on packaging so consumers know what they can recycle.”

Supermarkets appear to be making more efforts to reduce single-use plastics in recent months.

Morrisons announced in May that it would be the first British supermarket to roll out plastic-free fruit and veg areas in many of its stores.

Morrisons packaging was found to be the least recyclable
Morrisons packaging was found to be the least recyclable

Customers will be able to choose from up to 127 varieties of fruit and veg, and buy them loose or put them in recyclable paper bags.

Meanwhile, Waitrose announced earlier this month that it will allow customers to fill their own containers with products ranging from pasta to washing-up liquid in an effort to cut waste.

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