Recycling Holiday Chocolates is Harder Than You Think
Christmas chocolate packaging can make up almost half the product’s total weight, and cause “confusion” when recycling, according to new research by Which?
The Ferrero Rocher Collection tray was the worst offender, with 42 per cent of its total weight taken up by packaging, while just 11 per cent was recyclable.
At the other end of the spectrum the Lindt Lindor Mix only contained 11.5 per cent packaging, with only the individual chocolate wrappers not being recyclable.
While the Waitrose Christmas Chocolate Favourites had one of the highest levels of packaging at 30.3 per cent, it was the easiest to recycle, at 96.3 per cent.
And brands seem to be prioritising their use of plastic packaging and waste when designing their products.
A spokesman for Lindt & Sprüngli said they are committed to using 100 per cent recyclable materials and plastic free packaging wherever possible. The spokesman said: “This commitment also includes the assessment of the current Lindor packaging, which is characterized by its distinctive wrapping. It services as both protection for the praline from external influences such as undesirable odours, light and temperature but also as an appealing packaging.”
The survey also found that chocolate lovers could recycle more than 80 per cent of the packaging of the majority of popular chocolate boxes, but there was confusion when asking people what the different recycling symbols meant.
Half (48 per cent) wrongly identified the green dot, that is regularly found on packaging, as a sign that the packaging can be recycled. It actually means that the manufacturer pays into a recycling scheme, and the packaging may not be suitable for recycling.
The report also highlighted that while foil wrappers can be recycled, you need to make a bundle of at least 4cm in diameter for it to actually be identified at the recycling centre.
Nikki Stopford, Director of Research and Publishing at Which? said: “For many of us the indulgent look of these festive chocolate boxes is synonymous with the Christmas season.
“We are more aware than ever of the impact that we’re having on the world around us – so we want our research to help people to make the right choices for them and to understand how to dispose of packaging in the most eco-friendly manner.”
In response to the findings Ferrero said: “Ferrero Collection is a delicately created product and the packaging is of fundamental importance to protect our chocolates from damage during transport, in the shops and at home.
“The box used for Ferrero Collection can be recycled only when the local infrastructure allows to do so but in the UK this is still not available. We are aware that some consumers like to reuse the boxes in fun and creative ways like those suggested on our website.”
And Waitrose has been working on making their packaging more sustainable. They said: “All the packaging for this product is widely recyclable apart from the film which is there to protect the chocolates and to prolong shelf life. The black plastic insert tray has recently been replaced by rPET which is more widely recyclable.
“We have removed all (hard to recycle) black plastic from our own label boxed chocolates range and we’ve recently brought forward our target to make all our own-brand packaging widely recycled, reusable or home compostable from 2025 to 2023.”
The spokesman for Lindt & Sprüngli added: “For some products as for example our Easter Eggs, we already took action and re-designed our packaging-heavy Easter egg products in the UK for 2019. Furthermore, a re-engineering of our Easter packages will remove non-essential plastic components by 2020.”