Why Pringles' 'idiotic' packaging is a recycling nightmare

Pringles cans are a recycler's worst nightmare due to its different components.
Pringles cans are a recycler's worst nightmare due to its different components.
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Pringles, one of the nation's favourite snacks, has been singled out by an environmental expert as an example of how NOT to make recyclable packing.

Simon Ellin, chief executive of trade body the Recycling Association, said the packaging industry in the UK has made "some extraordinary progress" in recent years.

But he said the distinctive Pringles tube is an example of not getting the design right when considering the environment.

He told a conference: "What idiot designed this in terms of recyclability? We've got a cardboard tube, a metal bottom, a plastic lid.

"The Pringles factor - right at the design stage, we've got to get that right.

"What we're putting in our recycling bins has got to be recyclable. We've got to get away from the Pringles factor."

Mr Ellin picked out four other products as having some of the worst packaging for recyclability.

Lucozade Sport: He criticised the bottle, saying it is covered in a polymer shrink wrap sleeve that means it is over-packaged and cannot be recycled.

Black plastic food trays: Supermarket black plastic meat trays cannot be picked up by infrared technology at material recycling facilities due to the pigment in them.

Cleaning spray bottles: On the list due to the use of several polymers, as well as often having a metal spring in them, making them difficult to recycle.

Whisky packaging: The metal bottom and top of the sleeve on the glass bottle and the metal cap are difficult to recycle due to the various materials involved.

Mr Ellin said: "I have picked out these products as they are among the worst offenders when it comes to packaging that is difficult to recycle.

"We have got to ensure that the whole supply chain is involved, from designers, to manufacturers, to retailers, to recyclers, to local authorities and the householder, so that the products we buy can be recycled.

"Companies such as Coca-Cola, Marks & Spencer and Unilever are pioneers in improving the sustainability of their products and ensuring the packaging can be recycled once used.

"If they can do it, surely other manufacturers and retailers can."

A Pringles spokesman said: We trake our responsibilities to the planet we all share seriously, and are continuously working to improve our environmental performance.

"All parts of a Pringles can act as a barrier to protect the chips from environmental contamination and to keep them fresh. The freshness of our chips means a longer shelf life, which minimises food waste."