Two thirds of supermarket plastics not easily recyclable
Almost two-thirds (65 percent) of plastic packaging for supermarket products are not recyclable or only to a limited extent. However, more than half of the packaging that's not easily recyclable can be recycled with one or two simple changes to the packaging design. That reported Natuur & Milieu after an investigation.
The environmental organization examined the packaging of products people often use in daily life, both private labels and A-brands. It made a comparison between the largest supermarkets in the Netherlands. All supermarkets involved in the study have endorsed the Plastic Pact, in which they agreed to market as much 100 percent recyclable packaging as possible, said Natuur & Milieu. "But despite all these fine words, we have to conclude that when it comes to marketing and ease of use, supermarkets and manufacturers still don't give priority to sustainability," said Jelmer Vierstra of Natuur & Milieu.
According to the environmental organization, private labels do better than A-brands in terms of recyclability. Compared to the other supermarkets, Jumbo and Ekoplaza score the worst - they have more packaging that cannot be recycled, and it is also more challenging to make the packaging properly recyclable, according to the organization. Jumbo and Albert Heijn are leading the way with clear and complete disposal instructions. "However, at Ekoplaza and Lidl, good information is lacking for the vast majority of the packaging."
According to Vierstra, producers and supermarkets doing their best a little bit better will already yield an enormous improvement. For example, if the label is made of paper and glued to plastic, that gets in the way of recycling.
Natuur & Milieu wants the government to ensure that supermarkets and manufacturers only make easily recyclable packaging. "The quality of the plastics must be preserved; otherwise, there will be no effective recycling of raw materials," says Vierstra. The organization also believes that more needs to be done to ensure that consumers choose reusable packaging. "Ultimately, reusable packaging is, of course, even better than disposable packaging," says Vierstra. He is thinking, for example, of a discount for consumers who opt for refillable juice bottles.
Reporting by ANP