Easter is upon us once again, and with recycling in the news like never before, consumers are now far more aware of issues around packaging.
A report this month by Which? revealed that around a quarter of the total weight of Easter eggs is taken up by the plastic and cardboard packaging that they are wrapped in, with the outer packaging of one of the Top 10 selling brands tipping the scales at 152g of a 418g product (or 36.4%).
In the days before recycling was quite so widespread, there would be a seasonal overload at tips and landfill sites. Environmental and parliamentary campaigns were launched against the egregious use of Easter egg outer packaging as a ‘the bigger the better’ marketing tool, with confectionary giants eventually relenting.
Mars, Nestle, and Cadbury’s all reduced the size and weight of their packaging by at least 25% a decade ago, and efforts are still ongoing to make it using more eco-friendly materials. It should be remembered that despite being designed to appeal aesthetically, the packaging does also serve a practical purpose. The inner plastic shell is there to protect the Easter egg from breaking, as well as helping to extend the product’s shelf life. That in itself reduces waste to a certain degree, although the offset isn’t there if that inner shell is then thrown into the general waste bin.
This leaves the question: can Easter egg packaging be recycled?
You’ll be pleased to know that, generally speaking, the answer here is a resounding yes.
However, let’s start with the two things you can’t typically recycle. The plastic ‘windows’ in the front of the boxes are still a no-no at this stage, and any wrappers from chocolate bars which accompany the egg also have to go into your general waste bin.
The good news is that, like any other piece of cardboard, the outer packaging (minus the ‘window’) is 100% recyclable.
As it’s made from PET, the same material as plastic bottles (and tennis balls, oddly enough!), the inner plastic shell is also universally recycled by councils right across the country.
The final piece of packaging is the foil shell which wraps the Easter egg. Again, foil is widely recycled in the UK, and all you need to do in most cases is to scrunch it up into a ball. You do need to be on the lookout for any contamination issues, ie, if the inside of the foil is smeared in chocolate, it won’t be able to recycled. That said, chocolate is an easy substance to clean from foil, so it shouldn’t be much of an issue.
Ultimately, as long as you segregate your cardboard into the paper/card bin and the plastic into its correct container, you’ll have done your bit for a close to zero waste Easter.
Easter eggs are thought to date all the way back to the 13th century, and while they weren’t made out of chocolate back then (Cortés brought the first cocoa beans back to Europe in 1528), with one prevailing theory suggesting that as eggs were prohibited during Lent, they were elaborately decorated and eaten in celebration at the end of the fast.
The first chocolate Easter eggs were introduced to Britain in 1873 by Fry’s, with around 80 million of them now being sold each year.
Fresh Start are a Manchester-based waste management company, specialising in the collection and recycling of all cardboard and plastic waste throughout the North West. Contact us here or call (01942) 879 440 if your business needs a regular and efficient waste service.