Environmental experts are calling on the Government to fund a consumer education campaign about what to do with packaging waste.
Friends of the Earth (FoE) wants retailers and food manufacturers to use compostable materials that consumers can put in green waste collections or compost at home. But people would still need to be told what to do with each material, according to FoE senior waste and resources campaigner Michael Warhurst.
He says: “Recycling and composting won’t work properly unless everything is in place to handle materials correctly.” And he called some degradable packaging materials “a bit of a waste of time” because they simply break down into smaller pieces in sunlight.
Others are destroyed by natural biological processes but can produce greenhouse gases such as methane in landfills.
Julia Hailes, co-founder of the Sustainability consultancy, says reusing ordinary plastic bags might be more energy-efficient than manufacturing degradable or paper bags. She adds: “At the moment, the big supermarkets are doing it for the PR benefit rather than any real benefit to the environment.”