Marks & Spencer was forced to defend its pledge to cut food packaging yesterday after a survey found only 62% of the retailer's packaging could be recycled.

Analysis by the local Government Association found the retailer lagged behind the industry average of 68% and behind 69% at Asda, 65% at Tesco and 70% at Sainsbury's in a basket of commonly bought items.

M&S, which unveiled a high-profile environmental plan last year, told the Financial Times the analysis was “skewed” because it covered only a fraction of its full product range.

It was still aiming to make 100% of its packaging recyclable by 2012, added Helene Roberts, head of food packaging at the retailer.

“Families will be pleased to see that more packaging in their shopping baskets can now be recycled,” added Paul Bettison, LGA environment board chairman. “However, this survey shows there is still a lot further to go.”