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The end of the shrink-wrapped coconut?

Supermarkets Lidl and Marks & Spencer have the lowest level of packaging in the retail world that can be recycled, according to a new survey.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has today (May 28) published its second investigation called War on waste food packaging study into the weight of retailer packaging and how much of it can be recycled.

It shows that up to 38% of packaging in a regular household shopping basket cannot be recycled. The first survey, published in October 2007, put that figure at 40%.

The British Market Research Bureau (BMRB) was commissioned by the LGA to buy a range of common food items from eight retailers. The results showed that local retailers and market traders produced less packaging and more that could be recycled than the larger supermarkets.

Lidl and M&S had the lowest level of packaging that could be recycled at 62%. The retailers with the highest proportion of recyclable packaging were local high street retailers (74%) and large markets (76%).  Sainsburys followed with 70%, Asda (69%), Morrisons (67%) and Tesco (65%).

The study monitored food packaging levels for a basket of 29 common food items that had been purchased from the eight retailers. Lidl had the heaviest packaging at 813 grams, in comparison, large markets had the lightest packaging at 617 grams.

LGA chairman Paul Bettison said: The days of the cling film coconut must come to an end.
He also said that reducing packaging was vital if councils were to avoid paying more landfill tax and EU fines.

The LGA is calling on the Government to make retailers and producers responsible for funding the collection of packaging so they are incentivised to cut back on it in the first place. Bettison said that Britain should follow other EU countries to operate a system where retailers contribute towards household collection and recycling services.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Environment Secretary, Steve Webb, added: "Consumers are told to sort and cut down on their household waste only to come back from the supermarket with mounds of unnecessary packaging which cannot be recycled.

This survey shows how much further we still have to go to eliminate unnecessary waste and make sure that all packaging is recyclable.

While markets and local stores are performing far better on reducing waste packaging, the supermarket giants are lagging behind.

It is time that the supermarkets used their huge market power with their suppliers to demand dramatic improvements in cutting out unnecessary packaging and increasing the proportion that can be recycled."

Previous story, M&S fares badly in packaging survey, (23/10/07)

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