Cracking Down on Easter Plastic
We look at how supermarkets and retailers are making their Easter packaging more sustainable. Tuck in!
By now your Easter egg haul is very likely to be down to single figures. After a long bank holiday weekend of exercise/TV (delete according to honesty) and chocolate, you are now left with a series of elaborate packages to recycle.
Fortunately, it’s likely that your Easter egg packaging will be close to 100% recyclable since many supermarkets and retailers have spent a great deal of time reducing the amount of single-use plastic you have to get through to reach the egg inside. Where once you had to wrestle with at least three levels of packaging to ensure your egg remains unbroken, now manufacturers have developed better, more sustainable ways to protect their ovoid products.
Back in 2018, up to a third of the weight of Easter eggs was made up of packaging. But this year, that proportion has been reduced dramatically. In February, Waitrose announced it would halve the amount of single-use plastic in its own-brand Easter eggs and confectionary, with the majority of its packaging made from recycled materials.
Meanwhile, Asda stated that it has reduced 98% of the plastic used in its Extra Special Easter egg range, which is equivalent to 16 tonnes. It’s also changed the shape of its eggs to better fit the new cardboard packaging. Going further, Aldi has committed to remove all plastic packaging from its Easter egg range by switching to pulp trays. This removes over 24 million pieces of non-recyclable plastic from its packaging, which equates to 900 tonnes.
Steps To A Circular Economy
It’s also heartening to note that Cadbury, one of the most popular chocolate brands in the world, has also cut the amount of plastic in its egg packaging. Brand owner Mondelēz International removed more than 6.4 million plastic windows from its eggs this Easter, taking 5.4 tonnes of plastic out of the environment. The company has also committed to using 100% sustainably sourced cardboard.
“Increasing the recyclability of our products and reducing the amount of packaging we use overall are important steps in contributing to the creation of a circular economy,” said Louise Stigant, UK Managing Director of Mondelēz International. “In the last six months alone, we have removed over 192 tonnes of packaging in the UK and Ireland.”
What’s In It For The Brands?
There are a number of advantages to producing packaging with a reduced amount of plastic. Firstly there’s the issue of weight. Cutting out plastic reduces the weight of packaging significantly, which then positively impacts on transport costs and carbon emissions.
Then there’s the obvious sustainability issue and the business benefits of having clear environmental values that translate into brand action. In the recent Two Sides European Packaging Study, 46% of respondents said they now buy more from retailers that are removing plastic from their packaging.
“Consumers are crying out for brands that take sustainability seriously and products that are easy to recycle,” said Natalie Hitchins, Which? Head of Home Products and Services. “But for any real difference to be made to the environment, manufacturers need to maximise their use of recyclable and recycled material.”