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Up to one third of supermarket plastic not widely recyclable

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An investigation from consumer body Which? has found mixed results on the levels of recyclable plastic in the UK’s largest supermarkets.

The group ordered 27 of the most popular own-brand items from the top 10 supermarkets in the UK. They then weighed and ranked the brands by whether they could be easily recycled at the kerbside.   

Morrisons performed the highest with 81 percent of their produce being recyclable, while Lidl came last with 71 percent. Iceland (73 percent), Ocado (74 percent) and Sainsbury’s (75 percent) were also the lowest performers.

Between 12 and 22 percent of the packaging was not recyclable at all.

“We found key differences in some of the packaging used - showing there's plenty more that most supermarkets could be doing to reduce their non-recyclable packaging,” said Ellie Simmonds at Which?

Alongside the research, Which? conducted polling among a sample of 2,100 adults which found that two-thirds of shoppers felt that recycling was important when choosing what to buy. However, this only translated into 15 percent of people refusing to make purchases on this basis.

The analysts also found “huge inconsistencies” with the kind of labelling used for recycling information.

“Different systems of labelling were used. Some items weren’t labelled with recycling information at all. Others were incorrectly labelled and still more had labels which were only visible once the food was unwrapped – not helpful to those trying to make a considered choice in the supermarket aisle,” Simmonds added.

The patchy performances from the UK’s leading supermarkets puts into sharp focus the challenge to change their businesses.

All of the retailers in the investigation are among the 50 manufacturers which recently signed the UK Plastics Pact to ensure 100 percent of plastic packaging is either “reusable, recyclable, or compostable” by 2025. The UK Government has also committed to removing all ‘avoidable’ plastic waste across the entire country within the next 25 years.

Source: Which?

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