SOME of the country’s leading confectioners have defended their packaging policies after an MP accused them of using too much plastic in their Easter egg products.
Thorntons, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer were deemed the worst offenders in an annual ‘Easter egg’ report compiled by Lib Dem Jo Swinson (pictured) who represents East Dunbartonshire.
The study found confectionery companies, Mars, Nestlé and Cadbury, had reduced packaging and eliminated plastic from their medium range Easter eggs thereby increasing recyclability and efficiency.
However it said luxury eggs such as Thorntons, Baileys, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer continue to rely heavily on plastic packaging, most of which will end up in landfill.
According to Swinson, Easter eggs frequently demonstrate the worst examples of packaging waste, but she admitted packaging efficiency had improved significantly since her first report was published in 2007.
Swinson said: “Excess packaging continues to be a problem across many products and is a continuing cause for concern. Despite cuts made through the Courtauld Commitment, there is still not enough use of recyclable alternative materials, which means more than three million tonnes of packaging ends up in landfill every year.”
She added: “Gains continue to be made but more can be done. In the absence of better plastic recycling facilities, switching to cardboard or minimal foil packaging should be the solution.”
The criticism forced many business leaders out of their shell including Justin King, Sainsbury’s chief executive, who said: “Packaging has an important role to help us – and our customers – safely store and transport products, preventing food waste. Packaging is also a cost to our business. Striking the right balance between minimising packaging, protecting products and doing the right thing for the environment is always a challenge.”
Robin Paul Parry-Jones, packaging development manager, said Thorntons was dedicated to using recyclable materials “wherever possible” and providing a clear and consistent recycling message across all its packaging formats to aid consumer choice.
Marks & Spencer’s head of technology, food division, Paul Willgoss said packaging reduction was a “key area of focus” for the business which had reached a self-imposed target of reducing its packaging by 25% one year ahead of plan.
He added: “Further to packaging and food waste reduction, we are committed to providing an end market for recycled materials by specifying their inclusion in our packaging. This Easter we have included a post consumer recycled content in 100% of the PET plastic used in the packaging and we have sourced over 80% of the cartonboard from verified recycled or sustainable sources.”