It said a key consideration was the role that packaging plays in helping to maintain shelf-life and avoid excessive food waste

The UK’s £8bn sandwich industry is launching a new study into how it can better help consumers recycle more sandwich packs.

The industry is to set up a working group, including manufacturers, retailers, packaging and recycling experts, to review current packaging systems and explore how these can better be delivered to waste plants capable of recycling them.

The British Sandwich & Food to Go Association, which is spearheading the move, said many retailers and manufacturers in the industry had already done a huge amount of work in this area, in collaboration with packaging and recycling businesses.

It said more than 75% of authorities were now able to recycle lined board sandwich packaging, but added work still needed to be done.

It said one of the key considerations was the important role that packaging plays in helping to maintain shelf-life and avoid excessive food waste, which creates a much higher carbon footprint than the packs themselves.

“Our industry has already done an enormous amount of work developing more eco-friendly packaging,” said the association’s director Jim Winship. “We are totally committed to finding the best possible solutions to packaging but we are also governed by other considerations, particularly the need to ensure that packs fully protect the foods they contain.

“The last thing we want is to create a bigger problem by shortening shelf-life and creating more food waste, which has a higher carbon footprint than packaging. There are also moral and ethical issues about creating more food waste.

He added: “Most sandwich packs are now recyclable if they are handled correctly and get into the correct waste streams. We are keen to work with consumers to find ways to make it easier to ensure the packs get recycled.”

Winship said the decision to set up the group was made in February but had been delayed by Covid-19, which “has brought most of the food to go sector to its knees”.

The working group will begin in October.