INCPEN PRESS RELEASE – To recycle, or not to recycle, that is the question…

INCPEN PRESS RELEASE – To recycle, or not to recycle, that is the question…

It is good of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to raise an issue in his *War on Waste programme that faces many companies. Should they apply a recycling logo to a pack, indicating truthfully that it can be recycled, even though collecting, sorting and cleaning it could use more resources than would be reclaimed, or leave it off and acknowledge that, for good environmental reasons, some packaging should not be recycled and risk losing customers?

Most people do not realise that recycling carries its own environmental burden. It takes energy, water, cleaning chemicals, transport and money to collect, sort and clean waste.

Technically, all packaging can be recycled but the environmental and economic costs may not be worth the effort. Previous experience of cup recycling shows that it is highly resource-intensive and over 30% of the weight of cups sent for recycling is contamination.

Packaging is a mirror on our lifestyles. It responds to changes in society, technology and people’s habits. Hot drinks on-the-go used to mean taking a Thermos flask from home. Now we can buy hot drinks almost anywhere in cups that are designed to keep the drinks hot and be cool enough to hold.

On-line shopping is another convenience that people want. The packaging has yet to catch up –sometimes there is far too much but there are also examples of damaged products because there is
too little. Designers are working on it – one day there may be a pack that really will enable one size to fit all.

INCPEN has campaigned for recycling for many years and there is still a lot of potential for more people to sort out and recycle more bottles, cans, newspapers and other items that are regularly
collected and can easily be recycled. We should focus on those and leave small dirty items to be treated with residual waste where at least 20% will be used to generate energy which will reduce
the UK’s reliance on imported energy.

Jane Bickerstaffe, INCPEN Director says, “Whether a cup is recycled or not, let’s enjoy drinks on-the go and put the empty cups in a bin – and be grateful that packaging enables us to live the lifestyle we want”.


INCPEN – the Industry Council for research on Packaging & the Environment is a group of manufacturers and retailers from across the supply chain who carry out research to understand the
environmental and social effects of packaging and work together to promote responsible packaging for sustainable supply chains.

*War on Waste re first programme on 28 July 2016

Further information:

Jane Bickerstaffe
INCPEN Director

Tel: +44 7788 724817