A fifth of our waste is packaging – that’s five million tonnes of household packaging waste in the UK every year.
Packaging is needed to protect products, particularly food, but excess packaging is a waste. So next time you are out shopping remember to Think Packaging!
Why is packaging needed?
Packaging helps to protect products and can help food to last longer, which helps to reduce waste. Unwrapped cucumbers are often un-saleable after three days, but using just under 2 grams of packaging can keep them fresh for up to 14 days. Packaging is also needed to transport products without damaging them.
The problem with excess packaging
Even though some packaging is necessary a lot of products have excess packaging which can mean the product costs more! Packaging is also often sent to landfill as it can be difficult to recycle.
Most products with excess packaging could use less packaging, or smarter packaging, such as recyclable material, to give the same amount of protection.
There are lots of little things you can do to reduce the amount of packaging waste:
- Look for products with less packaging; many companies are promoting how
much they’ve reduced their packaging. Products with no packaging, such as loose fruit and veg, are even
- Buy products that use recycled packaging or packaging that can be recycled in your local
- Buy concentrated products and refill packs instead of fully packaged products, such as
fabric conditioner, washing powders and some beauty products – this can save you money too!
- Where possible, buy larger or economy sizes of goods such as breakfast cereal, tomato
ketchup, toilet rolls and soap powder. This can save money and creates less packaging in the long run.
Remember your reusable bags to avoid taking home plastic carrier bags.
if there is any packaging you can’t avoid buying, try to think of ways to reuse the packaging when you have finished with the product, for example:
- Use plastic ice cream tubs for storing leftover food in the fridge or freezer.
- Paint old jam jars with glass paints to make nightlights, or use them to store homemade
- Use empty biscuit tins to store spare buttons or screws.
- Create works of art with your children using empty cereal boxes, crisp packets and plastic
- Grow seedlings in empty yogurt pots.
Finally, don’t forget to recycle as much packaging waste as possible, either through your kerbside collection or at your local Recycling and Household Waste Site. Here is a list of some of the common types of packaging that can be recycled:
- Cans and tins- Your steel and aluminium food tins and drinks cans are widely
recycled. Don’t forget to rinse them out first.
- Glass- Glass is widely recycled. Don’t forget that as well as wine and beer bottles you
can recycle sauce jars, coffee jars and even Marmite jars.
- Cardboard- Cardboard packaging can be recycled too. Things like cereal boxes, ready meal
sleeves and tea bag boxes can all be recycled.
- Plastic bottles- These are widely recycled. Don’t forget you can recycle things like shampoo
and bleach bottles as well.
- Other plastic – Item such as yogurt pots and margarine tubs can be recycled at your local
Recycling and Household Waste Site. Don’t forget to recycle your plastic food trays too. Check your
local council website for more information on what can now be recycled via your kerbside collection.
- Plastic bags- Reuse your plastic bags where possible but if you need to dispose of them they can be recycled at most Recycling and Household Waste Sites and supermarkets.
Page Last Updated: 10 January 2013