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Half of supermarket packaging cannot be easily recycled, study shows

Which? looked at how easy it was to work out if items could be recycled. Credit: PA

Nearly half the packaging used by major UK supermarkets cannot be easily recycled, researchers have learned.

The study by Which? looked into the wrapping of 46 of the most popular items from Aldi, Asda, Co-op, Iceland, Lidl, M&S, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose.

It was found that an average of 52% of the packaging could be put into household recycling bins with ease.

Morrisons had the most packaging that could not be easily recycled at 61%, as many of its items came with non-recyclable plastic film, closely followed by Co-op at 58%.

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Tesco and Waitrose were found to be the best for recyclable wrapping, as 40% of their packaging could not be easily recycled.

The study also showed the amount of packaging overall labelled either incorrectly or not at all was 42%, increasing the chances of it ending up in landfill.

Iceland only had two in five pieces correctly labelled. An example of poor labelling was its easy peeler oranges, which were not labelled at all despite the non-recyclable plastic netting used.

Asda led the way, correctly labelling 78% of its items.

Natalie Hitchins, Which? head of home products and services, said: “Our research shows there is a lot more supermarkets and manufacturers can do to banish single-use plastics and make sure any packaging they do use is minimal, recyclable and correctly labelled, so that shoppers know exactly how they can recycle it.

“To reduce the waste that goes to landfill, the Government must make labelling mandatory, simple and clear as well as invest in better infrastructure to ensure that recycling is easy for everyone, regardless of where they live.”

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A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokeswoman said: “Supermarkets have a clear responsibility to cut unnecessary packaging, reduce waste going to landfill, and increase the amount being recycled and recovered.

“Through our landmark Resources and Waste Strategy we have recently consulted on plans for a ‘one size fits all’ approach which would mean the same materials can be recycled in England no matter which part of the country people live in.

"We have also set out plans for consistent labelling on packaging so consumers know what they can recycle.”