Half of supermarket packaging is ‘not recyclable’ says Which?

Just 52% of food packaging, including cardboard, glass and plastics, can be easily put into household recycling bins, according to Which? Researchers analysed the packaging of 46 own-brand items from Aldi, Asda, Co-op, Iceland, Lidl, M&S, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose.

The consumer champion broke down each item’s packaging and assessed whether every piece could be recycled without difficulty.

Last month, Morrisons introduced plastic-free fruit and vegetable areas, with produce only available loose or in recyclable paper bags.

Morrisons was criticised by Which? but was also the first British supermarket to roll-out plastic free fruit and veg areas in stores But it was deemed the worst offender by Which?, as 61% of its packaging was could not easily be put in home recycling bins.

It also found that 58% of the Co-op’s packaging materials were not widely recyclable. On average, just 48% of the packaging in supermarkets was found to be recyclable.

For Asda and Lidl, 50% of their packaging was not recyclable, Ocado scored 49%, Iceland 48%, Aldi 47%, Sainsbury’s 45% and M&S 47%.

Tesco and Waitrose were found to be the best supermarkets for recyclable packaging, with only 40% of their packaging not easily recyclable.

Now, Which? has called on the Government to make recycling labelling clear and mandatory and ensure the “necessary infrastructure is in place to make it easy for everyone to recycle, regardless of where they live”.

Natalie Hitchins, Which? head of home products and services, said: “Our research shows there is a lot more that supermarkets and manufacturers can do to banish single-use plastics and make sure any packaging they do use is minimal, recyclable and correctly labelled, so that shoppers know exactly how they can recycle it.”

Which? investigators also spotted inconsistencies in the quality of recycling labelling.

Asda led the way with 78% of its items correctly labelled but Iceland scored badly; under two in five (38%) pieces of the frozen food firm’s packaging had the right labels.