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Supermarkets undermining recycling efforts

March 19, 2009 at 12:49 pm

A recent report published by the LGA (Local Government Association) has criticised supermarkets for using excessive amounts of packaging, much of which cannot be recycled. The report claims that around 40% of packaging will end up in landfill which will cost councils a whopping £360 million over the next two years.

The survey looked at the packaging in an average basket at eight different supermarkets. At the top of the table was Sainsbury’s with recyclable packaging of 67%, whilst Lidl was at the bottom with only 58%. In terms of the actual weight of packaging, Tesco’s gets the gold star with 645.5 grams whilst Waitrose gets a black mark with 802.5 grams.

The BRC (British Retail Consortium) has defended its members’ position saying that packaging is necessary to protect food, thereby reducing waste, and has criticised councils for the lack of recycling facilities. The original survey carried out by the LGA was published in Oct 2007 and since then, although the percentage of packaging able to be recycled has remained roughly the same, the actual weight of packaging has been reduced.

Councillor Margaret Eaton of the LGA hit out at supermarkets with their “cling filmed coconuts and shrink wrapped tins of baked beans”, saying that the public are tired of having to bring home so much packaging which leads to higher food prices and a high environmental cost too.

The BRC, however, has said that it is nonsense to suggest that retailers “swathe their goods in masses of unnecessary packaging” and has challenged councils to up their game.

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