The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has hit back at the Local Government Associations packaging survey and said that retailers have made good progress in reducing packaging.
The BRC is asking local authorities to improve recycling facilities to make it easier for their customers to recycle more.
Director general Stephen Robertson said: This research only sampled 29 products out of the thousands retailers sell, yet it concluded retailers reduced packaging by 5% in just seven months a significant achievement.
But the LGA is right to recognise packaging plays a key part in reducing waste by preventing food deteriorating and goods being damaged. The environmental cost of wasted food is much greater than the packaging used to stop that waste.
Retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) is also dismayed by the LGA report. Head of packaging and food Dr Helene Roberts said: Were really disappointed with the report, which does not reflect reality. From our independently audited data we know that 91% of our food packaging is recyclable. By 2012 we want to reach 100%.
The BRC and M&S believe that the real issues lie with the inconsistency in recycling facilities across the UK.
Robertson added: Stores are rewarding and encouraging recycling. They are offering a variety of recycling facilities where practical. The LGAs own figures show this approach is contributing to increasing recycling rates. Retailers are contributing millions of pounds a year to help support Government approved recycling schemes. Retailers are giving local authorities £10 million to upgrade sites for collecting waste electricals and they pay £4.5 billion a year in business rates towards local authority funding.
Rather than looking for new ways to tap retailers and, in turn, hard-pressed customers for extra cash, local authorities would make a more positive contribution by developing their recycling facilities and increasing and standardising the range of materials they will accept for recycling.