Industry complacent on packaging efficiency and recyclability – Jo Swinson MP


Many Easter eggs remain over-packaged and unrecyclable according to a new report by Jo Swinson MP, a longstanding campaigner against excess packaging. Jo’s 2012 Easter Egg Packaging report brings little good news regarding reductions in packaging.

The report finds the percentage of Easter egg boxes taken up by chocolate was 38 per cent, the same figure as last year. In addition a number of manufacturers are not ensuring their packages are made from widely recyclable materials meaning much of the packaging still ends up in landfill sites.

In the case of Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference chocolate egg, a case of incorrect information means thousands of their plastic boxes may wrongly end up in recycling bins. The egg, packaged on a cardboard plinth in a plastic box, bears the widely recycled symbol. However according to On-Pack Recycling Label (OPRL) the only plastics widely recycled are bottles or jars. Sainsbury’s, a signatory to the scheme, has therefore inaccurately labelled its product.

The big three confectionery companies – Nestlé, Mars and Cadbury – use packaging made from widely recyclable materials such as cardboard for their medium-sized eggs. Nestlé this year has gone even further by becoming the first major confectioner to announce its full range of Easter egg product packaging is 100% recyclable. However luxury eggs such as products from Thornton’s, Baileys, and Marks & Spencer continue to rely on plastic packaging that is not recyclable in most local authorities. This leaves consumers confused as to what’s meant for the landfill and what’s meant for the recycling bin.

While not readily available on the high street, Montezuma’s Easter Egg is a shining example of best practice taking up an impressive 95 per cent of its packaging which is all widely recyclable.

Commenting, Jo Swinson said:

“Since launching this report in 2007 the main chocolate companies have acted to reduce their packaging and improve recyclability. However there are still a number of companies who rely too much on plastic and are sitting on their laurels.”

“A few manufacturers are hiding behind green credentials with packaging that isn’t easily recyclable by the majority of consumers.”

“Manufacturers know that their plastic boxes aren’t widely recycled and yet they continue to use them, despite other companies showing how Easter Eggs can be packaged with a mind to efficiency and recyclability.”

“It’s not impossible and there are now a number of examples of best practice out there to show how it can be done. Companies need to realise they haven’t gone far enough yet and still need to change the fact that so many Easter eggs are drowning in excess packaging .”

  • For more information on OPRL visit http://www.onpackrecyclinglabel.org.uk/
  • - Widely recycled: 65% or more of local authorities have collection facilities for that packaging type in their area.

- Check local recycling: 15% to 65% of local authorities have collection facilities for that packaging type in their area.

- Not currently recycled: Less than 15% of local authorities have collection facilities for that packaging type in their area.

  • This year’s Easter egg report found that box efficiency in terms of volume has remained stagnant at 38%. On average, Easter eggs in 2009 took up 40% of the volume of their packaging – the best figure since the study began in 2007. Over the past three years percentages have been fairly steady at 36% in 2010 and 38% in 2011 and 2012.
  • In 2007 Jo Swinson brought a 10 Minute Rule Bill before the house on packaging reduction. She called for the establishment of a national body to promote and enforce packaging reduction; to make provision for the disposal of packaging by certain retailers; to establish binding targets for the reduction of packaging; and for connected purposes.

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