The packaging of popular branded products is less recyclable in the UK than in other countries, which one? found, as research by international consumer groups reveals that consumers around the world face barriers to recycling.
Which ?, with eight international consumer groups representing 1.8 billion people, analyzed the packaging of 11 global household products, including Coca-Cola, Nutella hazelnut spread and Whiskas cat food, to reveal if the packaging was recyclable in practice – meaning that there is an existing collection, sorting and recycling system to allow consumers to actually recycle packaging. Consumer groups also looked at the quality of labeling information on packaging.
The instant survey found that in the nine countries, which also included Australia, Brazil, France and Hong Kong, consumers were not able to recycle all product packaging in practice. On average, only a third (35%) of the weight of packaging in all countries could not be easily recycled.
The recyclability of the 11 products analyzed varied across the nine countries, with the UK finishing fifth in the ranking.
On average, a third (32%) of the weight of the packaging Which? analyzed could not be easily recycled in practice. Five of the 11 products analyzed could not be fully recycled in practice, including Heinz Tomato Ketchup, Kit Kat, Peanut M & Ms, Pringles and Whiskas cat food.
The UK lags behind Hong Kong (7%) and Portugal (10%), which were the best countries for recycling. Australia (14%) and India (23%) also did better than the UK because they had a lower proportion of product packaging weight that could not be recycled.
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Different recycling and product manufacturing infrastructures would have a significant impact on the recyclability of product packaging in each country. However, more can be done to improve the recyclability of UK grocery packaging.
The worst countries for recycling in the instant survey were Brazil, where an average of 92 percent of the packaging weight could not be easily recycled in practice, and New Zealand, where the figure was 57 percent.
The investigation also found that no product had clear recycling labeling in the nine countries, and in some cases it was misleading, unclear and confusing.
While most of the products which? analyzed were clearly labeled with recycling information, one third (four) had no recycling information on the packaging.
The least recyclable products in the nine countries were Pringles (84%), M & M’s peanut chocolate (67%) and Kit Kat (64%), which had the highest average percentage of packaging weight that could not be recycled.
The most recyclable products were Coca-Cola can packaging (2%), the original Nescafé jar (12%), and Nutella hazelnut and cocoa spread (16%), which had the lowest average percentage of packing weight that could not be easily recycled.
According to Michael Briggs, sustainability manager at Which? :
“We know UK consumers want packaging that is easy to recycle, and although many types of packaging can be recycled in household collections, the UK is lagging behind other countries when it comes to recyclability of packaging.
“Manufacturers need to do more to ensure their packaging can be easily recycled, but first the government should make recycling labels on grocery packaging mandatory, simple and clear – letting shoppers know exactly how to dispose of it. the packaging of the products they use. “
See a link to the full report below:
Products easily recyclable in each country:
Right of reply
A Coca Cola spokesperson said: “We are mainly focused on consumer packaging… but we are also in the process of extending this work to our secondary packaging, such as the plastic packaging that comes with the multipacks of aluminum cans that you identify. in your letter… These innovations support our efforts to replace hard-to-recycle packaging with easier-to-recycle options. We intend to continue our work to achieve our goal of ensuring that all of our primary consumer packaging is recyclable by 2025. We will review your findings as we continue this important work.
A spokesperson for Ferraro Group (Nutella) said: “The total volumes of the Nutella jar, glass or PET, show an average global recyclability of 97%, as both are valuable materials, with consolidated collection and recycling programs in our main countries.
“Due to the limited availability of space on packaging for communication in Portugal and the UK, we have not been able to include recycling information on our packaging. However, we have included a link from the packaging to our website, which has information on packaging materials to help consumers recycle and the amount of recycled content.
A Kraft Heinz spokesperson commented on the results for Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia and New Zealand. (See here) However, Kraft Heinz is a signatory to the Canada Plastics Pact and the UK Plastic Pact, both of which are members of the Global Plastics Pact network of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. They have made similar commitments to make 100% of their packaging globally recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.
A Kellogg spokesperson said: “As part of our commitment, we are redesigning our Pringles box in Europe and tested both a steel box and a paper box there. The 2020 Pringles paper box trial was well received by consumers. We are also working to increase the recyclability of our current can until a new can is released.
A March spokesperson said: “In 2020, we launched a range of new packaging innovations, including: enrolling in reuse programs with Loop and Perfect Fit®; switch to a single-material M & M®s pouch in France; drive our Colorworks® bulk distribution of M & M’s® in several EU markets; redesign of display cases for WHISKAS® cat treat jars in two markets; the increase in recycled content in our Petfood bags; and reduce the size of our UK confectionery bags. We expect this momentum to continue in 2021. ”
A Mondelez International spokesperson said: “[We are] On track to meet the 2025 target for 100% of all packaging designed to be recycled; ~ 94% of all packaging is already designed to be recycled.
Nestlé has provided a link to “Creating Shared Value and Sustainability Report 2020” – here. Nestlé also funds the Confectionery Recycling Program with Terracycle, which supports the creation of up to 330 recycling points where people can drop off any brand / manufacturer’s candy wrappers for recycling.
A Unilever The spokesperson said: “When it comes to recyclability labeling, we make sure that all instructions regarding recycling are clear to people, and we are doing more in the space to help educate and inform people. people about packaging and recycling options. ”