Supermarkets under fire for excessive packaging

Meat manufacturers are likely to face even more pressure to reduce packaging following the publication of a damning report on supermarket packaging.

In its third survey of the food packaging in UK supermarkets, the LGA concluded that supermarkets are still using too much packaging on their food products. It also found that almost 40% of supermarket food packaging cannot be recycled, undermining householders efforts to recycle more.

The survey, undertaken by the British Market Research Bureau (BMRB) on behalf of the LGA, revealed that Sainsbury's had the highest level of packaging that could easily be recycled and Lidl had the lowest. Waitrose had the heaviest packaging, while Tesco had the lightest.

Since the LGA's first survey in October 2007, the weight of food packaging has been reduced overall but the proportion that can be recycled has changed little. Marks & Spencer is now the second best supermarket in terms of the weight of its packaging, having been second to last in the previous two surveys.

Councillor Margaret Eaton, chairman of the Local Government Association, said: "At a time when we're in recession and shoppers are feeling the pinch, we have to move on from a world that tolerates cling-filmed coconuts and shrink-wrapped tins of baked beans. Families are fed up with having to carry so much packaging home from the supermarket.

"If we had less unnecessary packaging it would cut costs and lead to lower prices at the tills. When packaging is sent to landfill, it's expensive for taxpayers and damaging for the environment. Supermarkets need to up their game so it's easier for people to do their bit to help the environment."

The LGA is calling on the government to make retailers responsible for funding the collection of packaging so they have a direct incentive to produce less.

Eaton said: "Britain is the dustbin of Europe, with more rubbish being thrown into landfill than almost any other country in the region. If retailers create unnecessary rubbish, they should help taxpayers by paying for it to be recycled."

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