Two-thirds of plastic packaging in supermarkets difficult to recycle – Response from our partner

Two-thirds of plastic packaging in supermarkets difficult to recycle – Response from our partner

Raspberries in plastic containers, packaged veggie burgers in the ready meals section: you can accumulate an impressive amount of plastic during your average food shop. An investigation by our grantee Natuur & Milieu (Nature & Environment) has revealed that two-thirds of plastic packaging in supermarkets are difficult to recycle. The findings have caused a stir in the media as well as in a debate in the House of Representatives. Programme Leader at Natuur & Milieu Jelmer Vierstra has the following to say about these revealing figures.

Pact with companies

Natuur & Milieu (Nature & Environment) strives for a more circular economy with a more economical use of resources. The organization promotes environmental interests and contributes to the public debate, such as on the recyclability of plastic packaging in supermarkets. Natuur en Milieu (Nature & Environment) conducted a study of seven supermarkets, which are all members of the Plastic Pact (in Dutch). Jelmer: “In the pact we have agreed for the supermarkets to make exclusive use of high-grade recyclable packaging by 2025.”

Many challenges ahead

In the study, the organization focused on the packaging of products often used in daily life, both private label and high-end brands, to see if the supermarkets have lived up to the agreements. The study revealed that the performance of Jumbo, but surprisingly also of Ekoplaza, are particularly poor. Fortunately, there was some good news as well. “We noticed that the media mainly zoomed in on the Ekoplaza performance. But in our report we specifically mentioned the positive aspect of the supermarket’s deposit bottles for dairy products”, said Jelmer. “Not only did we touch on sore points, we also proposed options for different types of packaging and which packaging the supermarkets could improve on.”

Proper legislation

The study was the focus of much attention in the debate in the House of Representatives on the circular economy on 18 November 2021. Jelmer: “We were pleasantly surprised. Virtually all political parties referred to our study, while the state secretary also acknowledged the relevance of the subject. We are confident that the government will redefine its definitions of recyclability, so that it will be properly regulated soon. This is necessary as the study also showed that much packaging can become highly recyclable with just a few minor adjustments.”

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