According to Simon Ellin, CEO, the UK Recycling Association, Pringles come in a tube-shape packaging which has a metal base, plastic cap, metal tear-off lid and foil-lined cardboard sleeve and even though Lucozade's bottle is recyclable, it is enclosed in a sleeve made from a different kind of plastic.
It also found, in a survey of more than 100 delegates, from all areas of the recycling supply chain, in partnership with the Quality First Recycling Conference in London last month, 59% of respondents considered poor material quality to represent the biggest threat to the sector.
The greater the number of materials used in packaging, the harder it is for recycling machines to separate them.
In response to the claims, a spokesman for Lucozade Ribena Suntory said all of its bottles are recyclable and it takes its responsibility towards the environment 'very seriously'.
“Last year we reduced the weight of the Lucozade Sport bottle by 3g, which equates to an annual saving of 540 tonnes of plastic. As with the rest of our drinks produced at our Coleford factory, the Lucozade Sport bottles are blown on-site to limit our carbon footprint,” he said.
”We recognize our responsibility to limit our impact on the environment and welcome any technological breakthroughs that support this ambition.”
Pringles, which is owned by the Kellogg Company, said it is continuously working to improve its environmental performance.
“All parts of a Pringles can act as a barrier to protect the chips from environmental contamination and to keep them fresh. The freshness of our chips means a longer shelf life, which minimizes food waste,” a spokesman added.
Black plastic food trays
Ellin said despite the challenges the brands were not alone and other ‘culprits’ include; black plastic food trays; ‘because supermarkets think black trays make meat look redder so they color the tray black but that makes it worthless for recycling’, and whisky packaging because it has a metal bottom and top to the sleeve, glass bottle and metal cap.
“The UK’s recycling sector faces many challenges just to maintain the status quo, but frequently the emphasis is placed on global competition and how that impacts the market,” said Ellin.
“If we produce poor quality material, global competition is insignificant. Unless our quality is a match for that produced elsewhere, we might just as well shut up shop.
“Quality has been talked about for decades now – but little has changed. I’m glad that most of our delegates recognise the seriousness of the situation. We now need to take that understanding and effect change, which was what the whole conference was about.”
The survey also found; 34% of respondents said legislative ambiguity represented the biggest threat to maintaining current recycling activities; 2% were worried about global competition and even fewer considered illegal trading to be a threat.
The Quality First Recycling Conference focused on four areas where there is an opportunity to make changes to improve quality and ensure the UK remains globally competitive.
- The need for a full supply chain approach whereby local authorities, recycling and waste management companies, products designers and brands, retailers, exporters and material purchasers work together rather than in silos, taking responsibility for their collective impacts on material quality.
- The need to address differences in quality expectations in various markets.
- The difficulty that some are experiencing working under an ambiguous regulatory landscape – and the consequences of non-compliance.
- The progressive work of large brands such as Marks & Spencer and Coca-Cola.
Adrian Jackson, chair of The Recycling Association said the conference was organized to kick start change, fuel debate and unearth opinions to inspire new behaviors.
“There were many divergent opinions and suggestions and under this campaign we will now assess those and develop a strategy to see where we can drive changes most effectively,” he said.
The Recycling Association’s Quality First committee will prepare a full report on how it proposes the UK recycling supply chain should tackle quality. The report will be published in July 2017.