Worst packaging offenders revealed

The Recycling Association has named and shamed some of the most difficult to recycle examples of packaging on the market, a day after a $2 million fund was launched for better packaging.

Speaking to the BBC, Recycling Association chief executive Simon Ellin singled out the iconic Pringles packaging as the “number one recycling villain”.

Worst offenders

“It goes into a pulper and you pull off the paper fibre but the plastic lid, the foil, the metallic lining and the metal base all get lost in the system and that’s a resource that just gets lost for good, all down to bad design” he said.

Lucozade Sport bottles were also singled out because they are covered in an “unnecessary” polymer shrink wrap sleeve that means it cannot be recycled.

Ellis also picked out black plastic meat trays for criticism because the pigment cannot be picked up by infrared technology at recycling facilities.

“We have got to ensure that the whole supply chain is involved, from designers, to manufacturers, to retailers, to recyclers, to local authorities and the householder so that the products we buy can be recycled”, he added.

“Companies such as Coca-Cola, Marks & Spencer and Unilever are pioneers in improving the sustainability of their products and ensuring the packaging can be recycled once used. If they can do it, surely other manufacturers and retailers can.”


To help resolve the problem of unrecyclable packaging, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Prince of Wales’ International Sustainability Unit have announced a $2 million ‘New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize’.

The competition, part of the New Plastics Economy initiative launched in January 2017, calls for innovators, designers, scientist and entrepreneurs to help create packaging that keeps plastics out of the ocean.

Half of the fund will go to a ‘Circular Design Challenge’ which invites applicants to rethink how products get to people without generating plastic waste. The other half will go to a ‘Circular Materials Challenge’ which seeks new ways to make all plastic packaging recyclable. 

‘Fundamental rethink’

Dame Ellen MacArthur, founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, said: “After 40 years of effort, globally only 14 per cent of plastic packaging is collected for recycling, with one third escaping collection and ending up in the environment. 

“If we want to change this, we must fundamentally rethink the way we make and use plastics. We need better materials, clever product designs and circular business models.”

Posted under Material and Packaging Efficiency on 22 May 2017