There’s nothing worse than the sweet taste of Easter eggs being ruined by the thought of how much impact your treat is having on the environment. 

But now, it’s easier than ever for us to have an eco-friendly Easter, according to consumer watchdog Which?. 

The product reviewer has analysed the packaging situation for the 10 top-selling Easter eggs in the UK, to see how much they’re really using and how much will have to go to landfill. 

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Of the top 10 eggs, packaging accounts for about 25% of the weight of the total product. But, according to Which?, almost all of it can now be recycled. 

“The UK produces around 11.5 million tonnes of packaging waste every year, and much of this comes from food and drink packaging,” said Nikki Stopford, director of research at Which?.

“It’s great to see that some manufacturers have taken on board concerns about excessive packaging and that chocolate lovers can enjoy their eggs without too much compromise,” she added. 

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“From plastic to cardboard, the bulk can be collected by recycling workers as part of the kerbside collection service,” said the report from Which?.

It marks a significant improvement on previous years, when chocolate manufacturers came under fire for the amount of waste packaging, and how little emphasis there was on recyclability. 

Of the 10 best-sellers, the worst offender for excess packaging was the Thorntons Classic Large Egg — for which packaging makes up 36% of the weight. 

According to Thorntons, the packaging is necessary to make sure the egg stays fresh. However, the vast majority of the packaging is now recyclable, with the only exception being the small plastic window film on the carton which contains the Classic collection chocolates. 

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“In addition to being recyclable, the fitment that protects the egg is itself made from 50% recycled plastic,” Thorntons said in a statement. “Full details of the recyclability are clearly stated on the pack."

“As a company, we are strongly committed to environmental responsibility and we are always looking for innovative ways to reduce the environmental impact of our packaging,” it added. 

The second on the list was the Lindt Lindor milk chocolate egg with truffles, which was found to be 28% packaging. 

Switzerland-based Lindt said it uses recycled materials wherever possible, but also tries to use locally-sourced packaging, to cut down on transport. 

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“As it is for all our raw materials, we take our responsibility towards the environment extremely seriously, and make sustainability a priority for our packaging,” said a spokesperson for Lindt. 

Generally the packaging for Easter eggs uses the same type of plastic that bottles are made of — PET 1 — which is recycled by 99% of local authorities. 

Foil is also recyclable, and Recycle Now, the national recycling campaign for England, recommends cleaning it and scrunching it into a ball. Meanwhile, the plastic typically used to wrap chocolate bars can’t yet be recycled. 

Which? compared the eggs by weighing their packaging as well as chocolate contents, to work out the proportion of cardboard, plastic, and foil in each, according to the Guardian

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Of the top 10, the Cadbury’s Twirl Large Easter Egg had the least packaging, with just 18.8% of the total weight. 

It’s also packed almost entirely in cardboard, which can be recycled. Just the two chocolate bar wrappers in the package, which together weigh less than a gram, can’t be recycled. 

So this year, when you’re enjoying your Easter egg, check for information on the packaging to see how you can dispose of it in an environmentally-friendly way — and make sure that sweet taste doesn’t turn sour. 

Global Citizen campaigns to achieve the UN’s Global Goals, which include action on climate change, life on land, life below water, and creating sustainable cities and communities. You can join us by taking action on these issues here


Defend the Planet

Easter Egg Packaging Is Easier to Recycle Than Ever: Research

By Imogen Calderwood