Contrary to popular belief, food and drink packaging accounts for only a tiny fraction of household and commercial waste, according to a new report from the University of Brighton and Pira International.
Less than 10% of waste is packaging, of which 57% is recycled and 7% recovered, making packaging responsible for less than 3% of landfilled waste in the UK, says the report.
Although the increase in consumption ready meals had generated more packaging, suppliers have worked hard to reduce packaging in products such as petfood and soft drinks, it claimed.
The amount of packaging used to pack one litre of soft drink had fallen 20% between 1997 and 2002, saving 400,000 tonnes of materials.
New manufacturing techniques had also saved 1g of aluminium per can. Yet while there was more work to be done to cut the environmental impact of packaging waste, under-packaging could prove more damaging than over-packaging, as damaged or poorly preserved products were thrown away.