New research commissioned by Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson has found that, despite promises from the confectionery giants, little progress has been made to reduce card and plastic waste and improve recyclability associated with the popular Easter eggs.
80 million Easter eggs are bought every year which generate an estimated 3,000 tonnes of UK waste (Wrap), and the 2012 Easter Egg Packaging report shows the percentage of Easter egg boxes that is taken up by the actual chocolate egg (that's what we all want really) has not been reduced from last year's 38%.
The report also criticises some manufacturers for failing to ensure that their packaging is made from widely recyclable materials - we all know what a headache that can be as different councils seem to have different rules for what can and cannot be recycled. Luxury eggs from Thorntons, Baileys and Marks & Spencer all continue to use plastic packaging that is not recyclable in most local authorities, MP Jo Swinson found. This means that a vast amount of the Easter egg packaging will end up in landfill sites once the chocolate has been devoured.
This year though, Nestlé has become the first major confectioner to make its full Easter range 100% recyclable. Nestlé is behind one in five Easter eggs sold in the UK, so this move is set to save 726 tonnes of plastic waste going to a landfill this Easter. The company has among other things swapped the 48 tonnes of plastic used to secure mugs and eggs with recyclable cardboard certified by the FSC and a compostable film for the windows. This is a 30% reduction in packaging on mug eggs.
It is time for manufacturers to stop hiding behind green credentials and look at what in reality can be widely recycled. Alternatively perhaps the UK should look to its neighbours in the north, where papier-mâché eggs filled with sweets is the norm for Easter. These are great for the environment as they can be re-used year after year, and double-up as decoration around the house.
The latest Egg Packaging study, the sixth year it has been published analysed 11 eggs and drew comparisons between eight brands also surveyed between Mars, Nestlé, Cadbury, Thorntons, Sainbury's and Marks & Spencer.