Food packaging – what a waste

waste packagingThe Independent has a story today about the amount of packaging that supermarkets produce – local authorities say it adds £1.8 billion to tax payers’ bills, and undermines recycling efforts.

The LGA has called for them to have to publicly disclose every three months how much packaging they’re producing.

They’re obliged to report to WRAP, the Government’s waste reduction body, but only Morrisons, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer have gone public.

Just last night we were looking at exactly how much stuff we CAN’T recycle in our bin outside.

In an average week, we probably get through:

  • 2 TetraPak orange juice containers
  • 2 margerine tub-style containers
  • 4 or 5 plastic trays from meat and fish
  • 10 yoghurt cartons
  • 5 plastic punnets from tomatoes, strawberries etc
  • And swathes of other plastic wrappings.

I’m still trying to work out whether those three supermarkets are any more environmentally-conscious than the others, or if they’re just more honest.

War on Waste report
Click for PDF

The LGA did a full report in February (click image to download) which compared the amount of packaging by the major supermarkets on a basket of the same 29 items.

Tesco did best in terms of weight of packaging, which is a surprise considering what a bad rep Tesco has.

Waitrose packaging weighed the most, which was another surprise for me. You pay over the odds for a loaf of poncey bread – you kind of expect the company to at least be putting that cash into ethical and eco-friendly practises, don’t you?

Sainsbury’s did best in terms of how much of its packaging on those 29 items could be recycled.

What’s clear is that if the supermarkets could be made to cut back on the amount of packaging they use, those of us who don’t live anywhere near the appropriate recycling facility wouldn’t feel quite so bloody guilty.

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