Reduce and reuse packaging
Why packaging is important
Each year millions of tonnes of packaging are used to protect the billions of goods used by UK households and industry.
If the packaging used by manufacturers was not fit for purpose the resulting damaged products or wasted food would probably have far more of an environmental impact than the impact of producing the packaging in the first place. 
Reducing the environmental impact of packaging
Many of the UKs leading retailers, brand owners, manufacturers and suppliers have signed up to an initiative called the Courtauld Commitment. This is a voluntary agreement aimed at improving resource efficiency and reducing the carbon and wider environmental impact of the grocery sector.
Manufacturers are working hard to ensure that packaging is designed to reduce its impact of the environment. To minimise the amount of packaging material used and, wherever possible, use materials that can be recycled.
These include the following actions:
- Fit for purpose: ensuring the packaging protects the products and reduces the risk of damage or product waste.
- Remove: challenging whether packaging is needed at all to protect a product and deliver it safely and in good condition to the end user.
- Reduce: understanding the opportunity to use less material through design, specification and weight of material.
- Re-use: looking at the options to reuse the packaging, for example use of refills.
- Recycle: designing packaging so that it can be readily and efficiently recycled more easily – its recyclability.
- Recycled content: specifying recycled content will reduce the demand for primary raw materials and generate demand for recycled material.
What can I do to reduce packaging?
The products you choose to buy can have a big influence on the amount of waste produced. Looking out for products with reduced packaging can make a big difference. Why not use our packaging reduction tips and examples next time you are out shopping!
Choose products with less packaging
Look out for products with reduced packaging, and avoid products which you feel are over-packaged such as ready meals, plastic wrapped bananas, individually wrapped biscuits etc. Wherever possible buy products packaged in recyclable materials such as cardboard.
Concentrated products contain less water so can reduce packaging by over 50%. Fabric conditioner, squash, liquid detergent and handwash are all examples of concentrated or refillable products. Follow manufacturers’ instructions on cleaning products to make sure that you use the right amounts of these products.
Fruit and Vegetables
Buy your fruit and veg loose, rather than pre-packed. Also, is it also possible to place the items loose in your shopping trolley rather than bagging them up.
How can I reuse packaging?
We all want to help do "our bit" for the environment, an easy place to start is your kitchen cupboard. Take a look at our packaging reduction hints and examples for ways that you can start reusing your packaging today!
Use refillable products
Refills can reduce the amount of packaging used by up to 75% and can also save you money too. Many household washing detergents and cleaning products are available in refillable packaging.
Reuse carrier bags
Take your own reusable shopping bags next time you visit the supermarket. Tips to help you remember your bag:
- keep them in the boot of your car or in the glove compartment;
- keep them next to your umbrella;
- put a smaller bag in your handbag or coat pocket – then you always have it with you;
- hang them next to your coat stand or shoe rack;
- get your children involved, they are great at remembering things and reminding you;
- at work, set up a carrier bag dispenser where people regularly pass in the staff room or by the entrance so they can pick them up.
Turn your packaging into useful items
Reuse food containers and drinks bottles for storing food and packed lunches. Margarine tubs are great for home freezing. Boxes and packing cases can also be used for your own parcels and storage.