Research by The Telegraph has found more than two-thirds of supermarket packaging in an average weekly family shop to be not recyclable or have confusing labelling. 68% of the packaging of the four major supermarkets – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Morrisons – was not recyclable or had confusing labelling.

The survey split the packaging into three categories; non-recyclable, recyclable and too confusing to categorise – this includes packaging with different recycling labels.

Tesco had 73% of non-recyclable packaging or confusing labelling – the highest of the four supermarkets. Morrisons and Sainsbury’s weren’t too far behind with 70% and 69%. 60% of Waitrose’s packaging were non-recyclable or had confusing labelling. The survey also found that some of the own-brand packaging didn’t even have any labelling about how to recycle.

What have the supermarkets said?

Since the results of the survey, Sainsbury’s have said they are aiming for all their own-brand plastic packaging to be recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2023. Waitrose said that whilst 85% of their own-brand packaging is recyclable, they are looking at ways to simplifying the message where each product should be marked recyclable or non-recyclable. Morrisons also stated that 82% of their own-brand packaging by weight was recyclable. Tesco are also reviewing their packaging and will remove or reduce the amount used as well as checking the labels.

What have the families said?

The families involved in the survey were shocked to find out how little of their shopping was actually recyclable. They were also frustrated that they were unable to recycle more. One of the couples was frustrated that some of the items they bought came with no labels. They also questioned why their red meat was put in two plastic bags which are difficult to recycle. Another family said that the recycling information should be clearly shown on the front of the supermarket packaging. They would be willing to spend more if they believed it would improve the retailers’ recycling practices. Another believed it was pointless for supermarkets to provide confusing labelling. This is because only the committed customers will recycle as much as possible.

Speak with Pro Environmental