British supermarkets are still making multi-million pound profits despite other companies feeling the pinch of the recession.

Information on packaging is logged on behalf of supermarkets and the Government by its waste watch dog WRAP, but this is not publicly available.

The LGA, which speaks for more than 350 councils in England, believes consumers are therefore unable to make fair and informed decisions on which supermarkets are truly green.

In a letter to Hilary Benn, the environment secretary, the LGA calls for the information to be published so that shoppers can ‘see hard evidence to back up supermarkets’ claims they are taking the problem of packaging seriously.

Of the eight supermarkets the LGA contacted, only M&S, Waitrose and Morrisons revealed details about how much packaging they produce.

Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Co-op all referred councils to WRAP, which responded but did not disclose how much packaging each supermarket produces while Lidl did not reply at all, according to the LGA

Council leaders say that while people are recycling more rubbish, their efforts are being undermined by supermarkets using excessive packaging, which adds to the estimated £1.8bn local authorities will spend on landfill tax between 2008 and 2011.

In her letter to Hilary Benn, Margaret Eaton, chairman of the LGA, said: “Supermarkets must be open with people about how much packaging they are producing. It is vital that consumers can make informed choices about where they shop and which products they buy.

“The public needs to see hard evidence to back up the claims of supermarkets that they are taking the problem of packaging seriously, that their claims to be cutting packaging are real and that targets are effective.

“Until it is clear each supermarket is playing its part, how can we assess whether the targets are tough enough?

WRAP said it published details of the industry as a whole not for indivdual supermarkets.

A summary of findings of the last LGA study of food packaging available on its website.

Luke Walsh

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