The list was created by the CEO of the UK Recycling Association, Simon Ellin. The greater number of materials used in the packaging, the harder it is for recycling machines to separate those materials.
At the top of Ellin’s list is the Pringles tube. The Pringles packaging is made of a metal base, plastic cap, metal tear-off lid, and foil-lines cardboard sleeve. When discussing the design of the packaging, Ellin said “What idiot designed this in terms of recyclability?” The product is so bad the company name is being used to describe packaging with low recyclability. The term “Pringles Factor” is used describe when a company uses different types of packaging on one product.
His next perpetrator is the Lucozade Sport bottles (and other sports drinks like it). The bottles are covered in a polymer shrink wrap sleeve, which makes the bottles over-packaged and nearly impossible to re-use.
Third on his list is supermarket black plastic meat trays. The trays cannot be picked up by infrared technology at material recycling facilities due to the pigment in them. Ellin said “Supermarkets think black trays make meat look redder so they color the tray black but that makes it worthless for recycling.”
The last two products, in his top 5, are cleaning spray bottles and whisky packaging. The spray bottles have several polymers and a metal spring in them, which make it very hard to recycle. Whisky packaging normal consist of a glass bottle, metal cap, and metal on the bottom and top of the sleeve. All of those products together make it very hard to recycle.
Of course, the top two offenders have something to say about their ranking. A spokesman for Kellog’s, the company that owns Pringles, said “All parts of a Pringles can act as a barrier to keep [the crisps] fresh. That means a longer shelf life, which minimizes food waste.” Lucozade also had a rebuttal. A spokesperson for the company said “All of our bottles are recyclable and we take our responsibility to the environment very seriously…We recognize our responsibility to mitigate our impact on the environment and welcome any technological breakthroughs that support this ambition.”
Despite their design flaws, Ellin said consumers should still throw these products in recycling bin.