Consumers lay waste to food packaging

Consumers are over-estimating the environmental impact of food packaging, according to a recent survey.

The survey conducted by food packaging manufacturer Sharpak has highlighted the misconceptions that consumers hold about the environmental impact of food packaging trays. Respondents were asked to rate food packaging trays, cardboard, cellophane, nappies and cotton wool, paper, cans, plastic bottles, glass and carrier bags in order of their carbon footprint. They rated food packaging trays in the top three most harmful materials, after cellophane and carrier bags.

Trefor Owen, environmental manager at Sharpak, said: “Food packaging trays are the least harmful of all the materials listed, as they incorporate post-consumer waste and are recyclable.

“Much progress has been made in their design and manufacture, so that the carbon footprint is reduced. This needs to be communicated better, so that consumers can make more informed purchasing decisions and better manage their domestic waste and recycling.

“It is clear that there is a need for better awareness of packaging materials and their ability to be recycled.”

The Sharpak survey was completed by more than 100 respondents, who were primarily based in the south and the Midlands. Although 25% of respondents did not know whether their local authority collects and recycles plastic packaging, the survey did not ask if the local authorities provided the facilities to recycle  food packaging.

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