Product packaging needs to abandon 'Pringles factor'

The packaging industry has been urged to pay more attention to recyclable models and move away from the "Pringles factor".

Simon Ellin, chief executive of the Recycling Association, said "some extraordinary progress" has been made in recent years but more is needed.

He also highlighted Pringles snack packaging as a prime example of not getting the design right when considering the environment.

Mr Ellin told a conference: "What idiot designed this in terms of recyclability?

"We've got a cardboard tube, a metal bottom, a plastic lid."

"What we're putting in our recycling bins has got to be recyclable. We've got to get away from the Pringles factor, " he added.

In the past, Pringles has said their packaging design helps retain product 'freshness'. Credit: PA

A Pringles spokesman said: "We take our responsibilities to the planet we all share seriously and are continuously working to improve our environmental performance.

"All parts of a Pringles can act as a barrier to protect the chips from environmental contamination and to keep them fresh.

"The freshness of our chips means a longer shelf life, which minimises food waste."

Mr Elin also highlighted other products which he said were the "worst offenders" when it comes to recycling.

  • Lucozade Sport : The bottle was criticised for having a polymer shrink wrap sleeve that means it cannot be recycled, Mr Elin said.

  • Black plastic food trays: Infrared technology at material recycling facilities cannot pick them up due to the pigment in them.

  • Cleaning spray bottles: Several polymers, as well as often having a metal spring in them, make them difficult to recycle, the environmental expert said.

  • Whisky packaging: Mr Ellin said the metal bottom and top of the sleeve on the glass bottle and the metal cap are difficult to recycle due to the various materials involved.

Black plastic food trays were also deemed one of the worst packaging 'offenders'. Credit: PA

Mr Ellin said: "I have picked out these products as they are among the worst offenders when it comes to packaging that is difficult to recycle.

"We have got to ensure that the whole supply chain is involved, from designers, to manufacturers, to retailers, to recyclers, to local authorities and the householder so that the products we buy can be recycled."

A spokesperson for Lucozade Ribena Suntory said it takes its "responsibility to the environment very seriously".

"Last year we reduced the weight of the Lucozade Sport bottle by 3g, which equates to an annual saving of 540 tonnes of plastic.

“We recognise our responsibility to limit our impact on the environment and welcome any technological breakthroughs that support this ambition.”