New controls on retail packaging are more likely after the government admitted this week that present voluntary arrangements were not good enough.
Joan Ruddock, parliamentary undersecretary of state at Defra, who is responsible for waste and recycling, conceded more needed to be done to cut unnecessary packaging after a cross-party group of MPs backed a proposal for a national body to enforce cuts in packaging.
The minister acknowledged that steps were being taken to curb packaging but said she would "push the supermarkets to go further".
The plans for a national enforcement body was contained in a Private Bill unveiled earlier in the day by Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson, and supported by MPs from across the political spectrum. She told the House of Commons that supermarkets handed out seven billion plastic bags a year. Packaging now cost the average family £470 a year with five million tonnes of packaging going to landfill, she claimed.
The Bill would give consumers the right to leave packaging in supermarket bins for recycling and impose legally binding targets to reduce levels.
It would also place responsibilities on supermarkets to encourage reuse of plastic bags, and extend the powers of Trading Standards officers.
The Bill was unveiled as the Local Government Association accused supermarkets of a failure to reduce and recycle packaging. In a report, the LGA said M&S was the worst offender, claiming 40% of its packaging could not be recycled.
But M&S, which has pledged to reduce packaging waste under its Plan A initiative, insisted 70% of its materials could already be recycled and a further 20% could be if councils had facilities.
This view was backed by Straight, a supplier of recycling containers. CEO Jonathan Straight said: "The LGA lists jam jar lids, plastic bottle tops and foil as not recyclable. All of these things can be recycled, but not every council has the facilities."