Supermarket packaging debate heats up in UK

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 14th July 2009

The Local Government Association (LGA) should stop “carping” and start “collaborating” on reducing the amount of supermarket packaging going to landfill, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) told just-food overnight.The LGA on Saturday (11 July) called for the government to force UK supermarkets to reveal how much packaging they produce.

The association said only M&S, Waitrose and Morrisons revealed details about how much packaging they produce, while Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Co-op all referred councils to WRAP.

Reacting to the calls, BRC environment director Jane Milne, said: “The LGA appears to be more interested in publicity than achieving real environmental progress. It would make a better contribution to reducing the amount of packaging going to landfill by meeting us to discuss how we can increase recycling. It should stop carping and start collaborating.”

The consortium said that all publishing figures would do is “demonise” large retailers who use more packaging because they sell more products.

The LGA said it was calling on WRAP to publish, every three months, the amount of packaging each supermarket produces so that shoppers can compare and see which perform the best and worst at cutting back.

A spokesperson for the environmental company said: “WRAP publishes packaging data for the grocery sector as a whole, which is measured against specific targets. This is under a voluntary commitment, the Courtauld Commitment, which has already met its first objective of stopping the long-term trend in packaging growth despite a growth in population and an increase in grocery sales.”

Retail giant Asda said it is “frustrating” for the LGA to “keep pointing the figure of blame” rather than helping solve the problem.

“The cynical could be forgiven for thinking they simply want to gloss over the terrible inconsistencies that exist amongst local council recycling schemes. This post code lottery makes it nigh on impossible for national retailers to design packaging that can be disposed of everywhere – despite more than 90% of it being recyclable,” a spokesperson said.

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