TWO thirds of packaging found amongst the UK's best-selling branded groceries are not fully recyclable in household collections, a new investigation has found.

Crisps, chocolate and cheese are among the worst foods for packaging recyclability, with brands including Pringles, Cadbury and Babybel failing to do their bit for the environment, the research says.

Analysis of 89 of the UK’s best-selling branded groceries found only a third (34%) had packaging that was fully recyclable in household collections.

And four in 10 (41%) items had no labelling to show if they could be recycled, leaving consumers none the wiser about how to dispose of them, according to the probe by consumer organisation Which?

Which? is calling on the government to make recycling labelling simple, clear and mandatory, so that all consumers are able to make informed decisions when buying groceries.

Natalie Hitchins, Which? head of home products and services, said: “Consumers are crying out for brands that take sustainability seriously and products that are easy to recycle, but for any real difference to be made to the environment, manufacturers need to maximise their use of recyclable and recycled materials and ensure products are correctly labelled.

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“To reduce the waste that goes to landfill, the government must make labelling mandatory, simple and clear, enabling shoppers to know exactly how to dispose of the packaging on the products they consume.”


Which? looked at 10 different categories of items including popular brands of chocolate, fizzy drinks, crisps, yoghurts, drinks, cheese, bread loaves and cereals and assessed whether they were easily recycled.

The group found that worst category by some distance was crisps, with only three per cent of packaging recyclable in household collections.

This included Pringles and their "notoriously hard to recycle" combined material tube.

The research said that the "best of a bad lot" in this category was a Quavers multipack. None of the individual packets of crisps were easily recyclable.

When the study team took apart and analysed cheese packaging it found that a third (34%) was not easily recyclable.

Snack packs of Cathedral City and Babybel were packaged in plastic net bags, which Which? said are not only difficult to recycle but can also cause problems if they get caught up in the recycling machines accidentally.

At the other end of the spectrum, packaging for Dairylea Cheese Triangles, Seriously Spreadable Cheese and Laughing Cow triangles were all recyclable - but all had this important information missing from their labels at the time of testing.

Among the chocolate snacks Which? looked at, almost a third of packaging was not recyclable.

Favourites like four finger KitKats, Cadbury Bitsa Wispa, M&Ms, Cadbury Dairy Milk bars and Cadbury Twirl Bites were all found to not be recyclable in household recycling at all.

And none of the bread packaging Which? looked at was recyclable in household collections. But it was recyclable if taken to supermarket collection points alongside plastic bags.

The most recyclable category was fizzy drinks, which were found to be 100 per cent recyclable. All 10 items Which? looked at in this category were also correctly labelled.

Pringles (owned by Kellogg) said: "Kellogg is committed to 100% recyclable, compostable or reusable packaging by the end of 2025. We are also working with our packaging and waste management partners to ensure the Pringles can is more widely collected, sorted and recycled. It’s important the Pringles can is sturdy as this ensures the crisps stay in perfect condition. So when we look at various other alternatives, we need to make sure that they don’t result in more food waste from broken and stale crisps."

Cathedral City said it was working on a permanent solution adding: “It is correct that our flexible film packaging cannot be recycled through kerbside collection. Cheese film packaging is notoriously difficult to recycle."

Mini Babybel were in the process of rolling out a UK & Ireland partnership with TerraCycle, offering customers a simple and free solution to recycling all elements of our packaging including the plastic cello, wax and net bags.

Nestle, which produces Kit Kat said they werecommitted to making all its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025, including the elimination of non-recyclable plastics.

Capri Sun said it hoped to have a fully recyclable pouch before 2025.