Traditionally, Easter is the celebration of Jesus Christ’s return from the dead, following his crucifixion by the Romans. These days, however, Resurrection Sunday is more about the consumption of egg-shaped chocolate. Companies make millions upon millions of pounds each year, cashing in on the British public’s insatiable appetite for confectionary during the month of April. In fact Easter is second only to Christmas in terms of chocolate-eating.
Unsurprisingly, the marketing that accompanies Easter-egg production is rather competitive with numerous big brands forking out huge amounts of money on promotion. Sadly the packaging, which forms a central role in the marketing of just about any product, tends to be rather bulky. This is especially true of your average Easter egg. It is estimated that over 8000 tonnes of waste is generated from Easter egg packaging every year. In fact, one study found that the packaging itself weighed as much as the confectionary it contained.
To address the problem, major companies such as Cadbury have reduced packaging by as much as 25%. Mars have weighed in with a 42% reduction and retailers like Marks & Spencer have managed 30% with 85% of their packaging recyclable. While this is all well and good for the environment, the average consumer is still left with a great deal of empty packaging once the Easter period has come to an end. So what is the best way to recycle all this surplus cardboard and plastic?
Well, rubbish collection in London has offered various methods of recycling for many years. In most areas, the cardboard packaging can be included with weekly recycled waste. However, some London authorities require that all plastic packaging be removed which is of course, a bit of a pain. This problem is alleviated in certain parts of our capital with boroughs providing white canvas bags for plastics. This can still prove rather inconvenient however as many Easter egg boxes are rather sturdy in construction, so dismembering the said packaging can be difficult and time-consuming. It can also increase the amount of household waste dramatically.
Thankfully there’s another alternative. Sainsbury’s, has offered a dedicated in-store recycling facility for their Easter egg packaging in an attempt to cut-down on waste going to landfill sites. Their customers were able to recycle all elements of the discarded packaging, which included the cardboard, foil, plastic, ribbon and film. Free-standing, compartmentalised bins were trialled this Easter in 50 Sainsbury’s stores with further plans for a national rollout next year, to all 400 outlets.
If successful, there’s a very real possibility that other supermarket chains will follow suit. And in the long-run, this can only be a good thing – such initiatives have the potential to relieve the burden placed on services specialising in rubbish removal in London and provide added convenience to those residents whose local authorities do not provide facilities for plastic recycling. In the short to medium term, this is probably the best solution available, considering the efforts most of the confectionary companies have made in addressing this unsustainable problem.
[Picture by Lotus Head, Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)]