We recycle about 59% of all the packaging we buy, but much of the rest still ends up in landfill.
We throw away 10.5 million tonnes of packaging in the UK each year, much of which ends up in landfill.
But, not all packaging is bad. In fact, packaging can be really useful as it protects a product on its journey from manufacturer to retailer and on to consumers. It can also extend a product’s shelf-life. Unwrapped cucumbers for example spoil after three days, but using just under two grams of packaging keeps them fresh for 14 days.
In some cases, the waste from damaged products could have far more of an environmental impact than the packaging used, especially when some packaging material can be recycled.
It is important to get the packaging balance right. We need to reduce excessive packaging and make more packaging recyclable. Using recycled glass, metal, paper, board and plastic to produce packaging also helps to increase demand for recyclable materials.
Here are a few easy steps to cut down on packaging.
- Try and avoid overpackaged items and buy loose products wherever possible.
- Buy products such as toiletries and cleaning liquids in refillable containers.
- Buy milk from the milkman.
- Recycle or compost as much paper and card packaging as possible, and avoid buying items in packaging which is difficult to recycle locally.
- Most packaging is used for only a very short time but plastic for example takes hundreds of years to break down. If you can’t avoid non-recyclable packaging, see if you can use it elsewhere, for example use empty ice cream containers to store your lunch in.