• Business Business

Baffled shopper questions common recycling label on many products: 'There must be a better way'

"I know all our supermarkets don't have this feature."

"I know all our supermarkets don't have this feature."

Photo Credit: iStock

Recycling is one of the biggest ways that most people are aware of to help the environment. Unfortunately, most plastic never gets recycled — even when consumers want it to be recycled. A Redditor just shined a light on one of the reasons why.

What's happening?

"Why is 'Recycle at large supermarket' on so many products in the UK?" asked the frustrated Redditor in a post on the r/ZeroWaste subreddit. "There must be a better way."

"I know all our supermarkets don't have this feature."
Photo Credit: Reddit

Their post included a zoomed-in photo of a plastic food package, which says, in those exact words: "Recycle at large supermarket. Don't recycle at home."

But that instruction is easier said than done.

Why is this instruction a problem?

For people living in areas with recycling pickup at home, that service is the obvious choice for correctly disposing of plastics and other recyclable materials. Most won't want to keep a separate bag of recyclable materials and make an extra trip.

"How many people are taking all their chocolate/crisp packets back to store?" the original poster pointed out.

And that's assuming in-store recycling is an option in the first place. "I know all our supermarkets don't have this feature, so that's a lot of plastic going to the landfill," said the OP. "Our area doesn't even have this feature or at least I've never seen anybody doing it or a machine/bin for it."

Even when recycling services are offered, they don't always do what they say they will. A recent investigation found that bags dropped off at Walmart and Target for recycling largely ended up at landfills or incinerators.

All of that means more trouble for consumers just trying to do the right thing, more plastic going to landfills, and more toxic pollution.

Why are companies using this label?

Sadly, the answer isn't as simple as just recycling the packages at home anyway. Different types of plastic have to be separated or they can contaminate entire recycling batches — and not all facilities can handle all types.

To really make a change, manufacturers would need to make packaging from different, more easily recycled plastic or other materials entirely.

What can I do about plastic waste?

Choose products and suppliers that don't use plastic packaging whenever possible. Glass and aluminum containers are much easier to recycle and reuse.

If you do need to use products with plastic packaging, check which stores and facilities in your area offer recycling services.

Join our free newsletter for cool news and actionable info that makes it easy to help yourself while helping the planet.

Cool Divider