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Last Updated: Monday, 13 November 2006, 15:59 GMT
Retailers promise action on waste
Sainsbury's recyclable shopping bag
Sainsbury's has pledged a 5% cut in packaging by 2010
The UK's leading supermarkets have pledged to step up their efforts to cut packaging waste.

In a meeting with environment minister Ben Bradshaw, retailers agreed to look at ways of reducing food waste and making recycling information clearer.

Retailers have vowed to tackle waste, with Waitrose, Asda and Sainsbury's among others making specific commitments on reducing packaging.

An estimated 60% of all food packaging is now recycled, at a cost of 1.5bn.

'Lead by example'

Retailers gave ministers an update on the progress they had made in increasing recycling and the use of degradable packaging materials.

Mr Bradshaw said positive steps had been taken, but anti-waste initiatives needed to be "more visible" to consumers.

"Until the supermarkets demonstrate clearly that they are willing to lead by example, we cannot expect consumers to get fully engaged with reducing their own waste," he said.

One recycling expert said there needed to be greater emphasis on wasteful use of energy as well as greener packaging materials.

"We think for real environment improvement there needs to be a broader approach," said Jane Bickerstaffe, director for the Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment.

"We need to look at product wastage alongside packaging."

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