Families are urged to recycle gift packaging

PACKAGING thrown away in the UK over Christmas could stretch around the equator nine times if each sheet was laid end to end, it was claimed today.

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Research from the UK Government's Waste Resources Action Programme said the UK produces about 2.4 million tonnes of plastic packaging waste annually.

Earlier this year, it was reported just one third of Scottish councils met recycling targets for household waste.

Liam McArthur, Scottish Liberal Democrats' environment spokesman, said: "By the end of Christmas Day there is usually enough wrapping paper, decorations and bows to refurbish the whole house.

"Once you add up packaging from food, drinks and crackers it seems like the biggest gift you are giving is an unwanted present to your local recycling point.

"Excess packaging increases costs for businesses and customers and does little to help reduce our burden on the environment.

"We pay more for the packaging of our presents, we pay for the disposal of packaging and again for the wider environmental costs that excess waste causes.

"How much of that packaging is really needed in the first place? Manufacturers have a legal requirement to cut back on packaging where they can, but there is still a great deal of work that needs to be done.

"We have taken real strides in recent years but the battle is far from won."

Scottish Labour has also called for households to take more care with packaging.

MSP Claire Baker, the party's rural affairs and environment spokeswoman, said: "We have reached the time of year when waste keeps piling up and the prospect of recycling becomes more of a chore and less of a habit.

"With millions of cards sent to households across the country, the Christmas tree about to come down and the excess packaging that comes with toys and gifts, it is important to find the right option for recycling.

"That might be using your general waste and recycling bins, a trip to the local recycling centre, getting in touch with your local council to ask them to remove the Christmas tree or even donating replaced electronics and games to the local charity shop.

"Whatever option is open to you it is important to keep up with your recycling over the Christmas period to ensure waste is kept to a minimum."

stef.lach@ heraldandtimes.co.uk


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