Headlines: February 17th, 2009

Supermarkets are facing new calls from council leaders to cut the amount of packaging on their goods which cannot be easily recycled. The Local Government Association says excessive packaging of food items by supermarkets is undermining householders’ efforts to recycle and pushing up council tax bills.

The LGA has produced its third survey of food packaging and found that in a typical shopping basket almost 40 per cent of packaging could not be recycled easily. It estimates that this is contributing to the 1.8 billion pounds councils will spend on landfill tax between 2008 and 2011. The study was commissioned from the British Market Research Bureau. It found that Waitrose had the heaviest packaging, Lidl had the lowest level of packaging that could be easily recycled while Sainsbury’s was best with 67 per cent of its packaging being recyclable.

Margaret Eaton, the 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.”

Getting rid of unnecessary packaging would cut costs and could lead to lower prices at the tills, she said. “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,” she added.

The LGA argues that supermarkets should pay towards recycling services so that more packaging can be recycled at an affordable price which will help keep council tax down.