Crisps, chocolate and cheese are ‘worst offenders’ for recycling

The culprits… (Picture: Getty)

The big three ‘C’s of the snacking world may taste great but they’re having a terrible impact on the environment.

Crisps, chocolate and cheese are among the worst foods for recycling, according to a new investigation.

Research – carried out by Which? – analysed 89 of the UK’s best-selling branded groceries and found only a third (34%) had packaging that was fully recyclable in household collections. Some of the worst offenders included products like Pringles, KitKat and Babybel – and their companies (Kellogg’s, Nestle and Le Groupe Bel) are being called out for failing to do more to help the environment.

Which? looked at 10 different food categories including chocolate, fizzy drinks, crisps, yoghurts, drinks, cheese and bread. Experts broke down packaging, weighed each element and assessed how easily it could be recycled. The results found that recyclability varied immensely – with crisps being the worst with only 3% of packaging which could be recycled in households.

In terms of chocolate, almost a third was not recyclable, but Nestlé’s four-finger KitKats and Cadbury’s Bitsa Wispa were among some found not to be recyclable at all.

Various cheeses are also letting the side down on the environmental front, with products like Babybel proving hard to recycle.

Natalie Hitchins, head of home products and services at Which?, said: ‘Consumers are crying out for brands that take sustainability seriously and products that are easy to recycle, but for any real difference to be made to the environment, manufacturers need to maximise their use of recyclable and recycled materials and ensure products are correctly labelled.

‘To reduce the waste to landfill, the government must make labelling mandatory, simple and clear, enabling shoppers to know exactly how to dispose of the packaging on the products they consume.’

A Nestlé spokesperson told ‘We are committed to our 2025 ambition of making 100% of our packaging recyclable or re-usable. The vision is that none of our packaging, including plastics, ends up in landfill or as litter. We are making progress, in 2019, about 87% of Nestlé’s total packaging by weight and 66% of our total plastic packaging was already recyclable or reusable, but we recognise there is still a lot more to do. 

‘As we look towards 2025, we will continue to work with relevant authorities and infrastructure developments to ensure that our packaging can be recycled or re-used.’

While a spokesperson for Mondelez said: ‘Reducing the total environmental impact of our packaging and tackling the shared problem of plastic waste are urgent priorities for us. We want to contribute to a circular economy where packaging material is removed, reused or recycled, staying within the economy and out of the environment.’

Likewise, a Kellogg’s spokesperson wanted to stress: ‘Kellogg’s is committed to 100% recyclable, compostable or reusable packaging by the end of 2025 and as part of this, we are currently trialling a new widely recyclable Pringles can. Made from recycled paper, the tube is being trialled with two different lids – one plastic and one paper but both can be popped into home recycling bins.’ has also reached out to Le Groupe Bel for a comment.

In slightly better news, new research has found that a third of UK households have gone greener since lockdown – with many making more environmentally-friendly changes.

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