The Local Government Association has criticised food manufacturers who use unrecyclable plastics to package their products when more environmentally friendly alternatives are available.
The association as listed five of the worst offending types of containers:
- Margarine and Ice Cream Tubs. This packaging contains the polymer Polypropylene, which is extremely difficult to recycle. An alternative to this could be making them out of plastic used for water bottles which can be easily recycled.
- Microwave meal and meat packaging. These materials can be re-sorted and recycled easily, but need to be sorted using an optical scanner beforehand. The optical scanner can sort this material from any other colour other than black, yet manufacturers intentionally choose to use black packaging for aesthetic reasons. Changing the colour of these trays could lead to a real increase in recycling.
- Fruit and Vegetable punnets. Though simple in design, these punnets are complex in construction, with three polymers used in the construction of them. Councils are calling for a simpler design using recyclable materials.
- Yoghurt pots use a mixture of two polymers, Polypropylene and Polystyrene, which are difficult to recycle. Some companies now use yoghurt pots made out of polyethylene terephthalate – the same material that is used for plastic bottles, making them easily recyclable.
- Bakery goods trays. The lining which is used to house cakes and baked goods contains two difficult-to-recycle polymers, polyethelene terephthalate and polystyrene. More recyclable materials are available to store baked goods.
Cllr Judith Blake, LGA Environment spokesperson, said the Government should consider banning low-grade plastics, particularly those for single use, in order to increase recycling.
She said: “If manufacturers don’t want to get serious about producing material which can be recycled and protecting our environment, then they should at least contribute towards the cost that local taxpayers have to pay to clear it up.
“We need an industry-wide, collaborative approach where together we can reduce the amount of material having an impact on the environment. But if industry won’t help us get there, then the Government should step in to help councils ensure we can preserve our environment for generations to come.”