Supermarkets failing on packaging

Local independent retailers are outperforming supermarkets when it comes to reducing packaging waste, a survey has found.

According to a report by the Local Government Association (LGA), up to 38% of food packaging in a typical supermarket basket cannot be recycled, down just 2% from October last year.

The survey concluded that retailers have "a lot further to go" if Britain is to meet its recycling targets and avoid EU fines and landfill tax.

Marks & Spencer had the lowest proportion of packaging that could be recycled - only 62% compared with 74% from local markets and 74% from high street retailers. The multiple also ranked second in terms of the total amount of packaging, at 807g per average basket, compared to Asda at 646g. Sainsbury's used the third-highest amount of packaging at 746g.

LGA environment board chairman Paul Bettison said: "The days of the clingfilm coconut must come to an end. We all have a responsibility to reduce the amount of waste being thrown into landfill, which is damaging the environment and contributing to climate change.

"Families will be pleased to see that more packaging in their shopping baskets can now be recycled. However, this survey shows there is still a lot further to go.

"Reducing packaging is vital if we are to avoid paying more landfill tax and EU fines, which could lead to cuts in frontline services and increases in council tax."

Landfill tax laws mean that councils currently pay £32 for every tonne of rubbish sent to landfill, a figure that will increase to £48 by 2010. Under EU regulation, councils will face fines of £150 for every tonne dumped from 2010, which could cost local authorities £200m by 2013.

In an effort to reduce the waste sent to landfill, the LGA has called on the government to encourage producers and retailers to cut back on packaging by making them responsible for paying for packaging collection.

Bettison said: "Government urgently needs to change its approach, so retailers are incentivised to minimise unnecessary packaging and support maximum recycling."

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