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Dispatches from Anuga FoodTec 2009

Eco packaging informs grocery habits, says survey

By Jane Byrne , 10-Mar-2009
Last updated on 10-Mar-2009 at 13:57 GMT

Nearly 60 per cent of consumers pay attention to the environmental friendliness of food and drink packaging material during their grocery shopping, claims a new survey released today at Anuga FoodTec in Cologne.

Moreover, 86 per cent of consumers said that they recycle their glass while over 80 per cent argue that not enough attention is paid to household waste, according to the study, which was conducted online by an independent research group on behalf of the federation of European manufacturers of glass packaging containers (FEVE).

FEVE said that data for the report was collected in September 2008, with a total of 6,200 consumers surveyed.

The participants varied in age from 18 to 54 years old and were spread over 12 European countries including the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Poland, the Czech Republic, Greece and Turkey, added the glass packaging group.

Recyclable claims

In addition, the study showed that 85 per cent of those surveyed maintain that in order for a company to make the claim that food or beverage packaging is recyclable, at least 50 per cent of its material should be able to be reprocessed or returned to its original form.

FEVE said it is pushing a new initiative to increase glass recycling rates in Europe, part of which is a new public awareness campaig entitled Friends of Glass. The federation claims consumer involvement is crucial to ensure that all of the glass packaging on the market is recycled.

“In 2007, our industry produced 22 million tonnes of glass. 62 per cent of that was recycled. Our industry is setting itself the sustainability challenge to facilitate the recycling of the remaining 38 per cent that is put on the market but not yet recycled,” said Dominique Tombeur, president of FEVE.

Lack of recycling facilities

Meanwhile, a recent report from the Local Government Association (LGA) in the UK, released as part of its War on Waste campaign claims that only 40 per cent of food packaging in UK stores is recyclable.

And the LGA claims that supermarkets should pay more for recycling services to reduce the £1.8bn councils will spend in landfill tax on rubbish sites up to 2011.

However, retailers in the UK criticised the methodology used in the LGA report, arguing that while they continue to work to reduce packaging and food waste, the difficulties lies in the fact that consumers can not always recycle packaging because often local facilities do not exist.

And the supermarkets maintain that the responsibility does not lie with just retailers but with local authorities to make facilities consistently available across all of the UK.