Over the Easter holidays, we all received delicious chocolate eggs to celebrate and share with our family and friends. However, it’s easy to get distracted by the pretty coloured foil and packaging surrounding the egg, without thinking about what happens to that packaging once the chocolate has been enjoyed.
This year, it has been reported by the BBC that Easter egg sales have soared by almost 50% compared with last year, which means there will be even more waste created! To give you an idea of how much waste is created, research a few years ago by governmental body WRAP found up to 3,000 tonnes of chocolate egg packaging is generated each year in the UK!
We understand that the packaging itself does need to serve the purpose of protecting the egg, keep it hygienic, as well as giving the product a longer shelf life. We also know that brands want their eggs to stand out on the shelves and be appealing, so more consumers buy them. However, there are better, more sustainable choices that Easter egg manufacturers can make to keep waste to a minimum.
Waste Wise Kids ambassador, Mimi Pilcher, together with Rachel Rowley and Danielle Harrison from our Waste Wise Kids team have conducted a survey of some of the best-selling Easter egg brands to see how much packaging was used for each and if the producers encouraged recycling on their packaging.
They purchased nine Easter eggs from well-known brands, and here are their findings! Mimi ranked the eggs from 1-9 and provided useful suggestions on how the packaging could be made more sustainable and better for the environment.
In particular, the team were looking for recyclable, reusable and biodegradable packaging. They were also looking for hidden nasties. For example, if the cardboard used is shiny, then it might have a plastic coating on it. Also, while ‘scrunchable’ aluminium foil can be recycled, some councils might not accept it in with the tins, so it may have to go to a recycling centre. If the foil (like with many sweet wrappers and crisp packets) bounces back when you try to scrunch it, it’s not recyclable.
1) Aldi – Dairy Fine giant chocolate bunny
- No plastic or foil used
- The cardboard has been created to also work as a locator.
- No excess cardboard
- No glue or stickers used to keep the lid down
- Colourful design with 3D image to show product well, which can then be used repurposing.
Mimi gives this the Waste Wise Kids thumbs up! The winner.
2) Moo-Free – Original Easter egg
- Very clear, multiple labels about recycling the product
- Recycled plastic inside, which gives the egg a nice appearance
- No glue used on the packaging
- Fully recyclable
Another big thumbs up for this brand!
3) Nestle – Milky bar white chocolate egg
- No excess cardboard
- No plastic used
- Small recycling labelscould be made bigger
Mimi’s suggestion: There is no need for the foil on the egg as it is protected by the cardboard.
4) Green & Black’s – Organic Easter egg
- No plastic
- Glue used to stick the box down
- Only small ‘recycle’ labels
Mimi’s suggestion: The box is much bigger than the egg. This could be reduced and if the small window that shows the egg is removed, they could then remove all foil around egg.
5) Cadbury– Crème egg Easter egg
- No plastic
- Recycle logos are present one side, clear to see
- Glue used to stick the box down
- Excess cardboard used
Mimi’s suggestion: Remove the foil around the Easter egg and crème eggs. They could do this by placing the smaller crème eggs inside larger one.
6) Thornton’s – Dinosaur Easter egg
- Plastic holder inside
- Packaging has a plastic window that can be recycled but it would need to be separated from the other packaging and this isn’t clear from the recycling information on the box
- Very little details encouraging recycling
- The plastic used could be encouraged to repurpose
Mimi thinks this packaging could be improved in a number of ways to be more sustainable.
7) Galaxy – Minstrels Easter egg and 8) Galaxy chocolate bar Easter egg
- Box locator inside box, creating excess cardboard
- Glue is used to hold the box shut
- Individually wrapped chocolate inside, creating more waste from plastic pouches
- Very clear recycle labels
Mimi’s suggestion: No foil is needed on the eggs as they are already protected by the cardboard. Remove inside box. Instead of individually wrapped chocolate, these can be placed inside the egg. This would also reduce the amount of cardboard used.
9) Lindt –Milk chocolate egg with milk and white truffles
- Plastic holder inside very large
- Chocolates individually wrapped
- Excess cardboard
- Very little detail encouraging recycling
Mimi’s suggestion: Remove individually wrapped chocolates and place these inside the egg, this will then reduce the need for the plastic holder, which can reduce the cardboard needed.
We encourage you to do the same
The Waste Wise Kids team found this a really good experience to think about how Easter egg packaging could be improved and would encourage all our followers and members to do the same. Always look on the box for the information about which materials from the packaging can be recycled, and if there are some plastic elements then check out our sustainable Easter blog which gives you some ideas on how to reuse and repurpose plastic.
Whilst some of the packaging does say ‘made of recyclable plastics’, the user would have to separate the recyclables from each other because the methods of disposal are different. We think the brands need to take more responsibility for this rather than leaving it to the consumer, and stores need to challenge what they are selling! The plastic free product was very clever with the design of the box, you could tell it had been designed with sustainability in mind. For Easter eggs, the shelf life doesn’t need to be long, especially during the pandemic as everywhere seemed to be sold out before Easter!
As the consumer you are always in control, if you look at a product and think that it isn’t good for the environment, then choose one that is.
What can we do?
It can seem overwhelming to the consumer because many items contain hidden plastics and plastics manufacturers are still making non-recyclable plastics! In addition, not all plastics manufacturers are numbering their plastic to inform the user if the plastic can be recycled or not. It is not transparent, and this is a big problem.
We have the power not to buy
As a consumer, we actually have a lot of power, and that’s buying power. If you make a conscious effort to look for plastic free, biodegradable products then you are already helping the environment by not purchasing items that contain non-recyclable plastic waste. We have the power to make the markets sustainable, we just need to make the right choices.
We also need to challenge our own traditional methods of plastics waste disposal and not just simply throw our waste in the bin. Knowing what the right choices are involves educating ourselves about the journey waste has from it leaving your home or school and where it ends up.
If you have any questions or thoughts on this we would love to hear from you, please send us an email at: email@example.com and remember to follow us on Facebook @wastewisekids