Councils blame supermarkets for £1.8bn cost of excess packaging

Supermarkets were blamed yesterday for wasteful packaging, adding an estimated £1.8bn to council tax bills.

Local authority leaders claimed that recycling efforts are being undermined and argued that retailers should be forced to reveal publicly the amount of packaging they produce; rubbish that is adding millions of pounds to people's tax bills. They have written to Hilary Benn, the Secretary of State for the Environment, calling for the information to be published every three months so shoppers can "see hard evidence to back up supermarkets' claims that they are taking the problem of packaging seriously". Although supermarkets record the amount of packaging they use with the Government's waste reduction body, Wrap, only three stores – Morrisons, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer – responded to requests by the Local Government Association (LGA) for the details to be made public.

Wrap provided details about how it verified figures but failed to disclose packaging data on individual supermarkets, the LGA said.

Councillor Margaret Eaton, LGA chairman, said: "Supermarkets must be open with people about how much packaging they are producing. It is vital consumers can make informed choices about where they shop and which products they buy. They need to see hard evidence to back up the claims of supermarkets that they are taking the problem of packaging seriously... and that their claims to be cutting packaging are real."