Pringles tubes and Lucozade Sports bottles are the “villains” of the recycling world, according to The Recycling Association.
The Recycling Association named them in a list of products that pose the biggest challenges for recycling and reuse.
The popular Pringles carton has been replicated by own-brand retailers in what’s become known as the “Pringleisation” of packaging.
With its metal base, plastic cap, metal tear-off lid, and foil-lined cardboard sleeve – Pringles’ combination of materials make the packaging harder to separate and were described in the report as a “nightmare”.
The Lucozade’s bottle is recyclable but, again, its combination of materials featuring a sleeve made from a different kind of plastic makes recycling hard.
Simon Ellin, chief executive of the UK Recycling Association, said: “Improvements are desperately needed in product design.”
UIN what appeared to be in part a personal vision, he outlined what he deemed as the worst recycling offenders:
– Pringles (and products with similar packaging): “Number One recycling villain. These things are a… nightmare. Impossible to separate the parts.”
– Lucozade Sport (and drinks with similar packaging): “Number Two villain. This bottle is so confusing to computer scanners that it has to be picked by hand off the recycling conveyor. Then it often just gets chucked away.”
– Cleaning spray bottles: “Labels often say the product is recyclable, but that’s only the body. The spray has two or three other polymers and a metal spring. It’s almost impossible.”
– Black plastic food trays: “Supermarkets think black trays make meat look redder so they colour the tray black but that makes it worthless for recycling. Also, if someone leaves the torn film on the tray, with a bloody card below it, we just have to chuck it anyway.”
– Whisky packaging: “It grieves me to say this as one who likes his whisky but whisky causes us problems. The metal bottom and top to the sleeve, the glass bottle, the metal cap… very hard for us.”
A £1.5m prize for inventors to design products that are practical and easily recycled will soon be launched by Prince Charles.
The Plastics Economy Innovation Prize, promoted by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, features innovations in general product design and materials so items are easier to recycle.
Chris Grantham from the London branch of the global design consultancy Ideo, agreed with the findings, saying that Pringles and Lucozade Sport (and brands with similar packaging) were singled out by the industry as almost impossible to recycle.
He also applauded other easily recyclable products such as milk bottles, where suppliers worked together to produce all plastic milk bottles and caps using the same plastic.
Owners of both Pringles and Lucozade responded with the packs’ food waste saving and carbons emissions credentials.
Kelloggs, the owner of Pringles, said there was an environmental advantage to its design.
“All parts of a Pringles can act as a barrier to keep [the crisps] fresh. That means a longer shelf life, which minimises food waste,” a spokesman said.
Lucozade said it was reducing carbon emissions, adding: “We recognise our responsibility to limit our impact on the environment and welcome any technological breakthroughs that support this ambition.”