A Quality Street tub or Ferrero Rocher box might instantly put you in a festive mood, but when it comes to how sustainable the packaging these Christmas favourites are, it’s an altogether less merry story.
Consumer group Which? have ranked the treats by examining the chocolate-to-packaging weight ratio, and considering how easy it is to recycle the wrapping.
Ferrero Rocher Collection is “the worst offender,” Which? says, with only 11% of its packaging able to be recycled; the ambassador might be spoiling you with their delicious chocolates, but the box they come in can’t currently can’t be sorted by UK plants.
Quality Street does better, but still comes in second worst in the recyclability stakes with 83.1% of packaging being easily recyclable. Overall, the consumer group found you could recycle over 80% of the packaging for the majority of popular chocolate boxes.
The plastic tubs that contain favourites such as Celebrations, Roses, Quality Street and Heroes are generally made of a type of plastic called PET 1, explains Which? which is “easily recycled, [and] is collected by 99% of local authorities”. These tubs are also easy to reuse at home, which is even better for the planet.
Quality Street also says its film wrapping is compostable.
When they looked at the weight of packaging versus the weight of chocolate, Which? found that 42.4% of a box of Ferrero Rocher’s weight was packaging.
Thorntons Continental Selection was found to be made up of 29.4% packaging, while that was 22.6% for Milk Tray. The Cadbury chocolates did, however, have the highest percentage of easily recyclable packaging, at 93%.
Better news for those who love to wolf down a Lindt Lindor (and who doesn’t?). The Lindor Mix was 11.5% packaging, and 90.9% of that was easily recyclable.
Milk Tray and Lindor both come in cardboard packaging, which is widely recycled. If your chocolate comes wrapped in foil, Which? says that should be recycled too – though in order for them to be properly identified at the recycling plant, Which? recommends making your foil wrappers into a bundle.
And given the amount of chocolates you’re likely to be eating over Christmas, that sounds perfectly sensible.
“For many of us the indulgent look of these festive chocolate boxes is synonymous with the Christmas season,” said Nikki Stopford, director of research and publishing at Which?
“We are more aware than ever of the impact we’re having on the world around us – so we want our research to help people make the right choices for them and to understand how to dispose of packaging in the most eco-friendly manner.”
In response to Which?’s investigation, all brands said they take the issue of plastic waste seriously and that they continue to take steps to reduce it in their supply chain.
Ferrero (which also owns Thorntons), Cadbury and Nestle all added that packaging is vital for freshness, while Nestle pointed out its cellophane sweet wrappers were compostable.