Response from Weetabix about packaging

Filed in Blog, packaging by on December 17, 2010 19 Comments
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Weetabix choc chip minis

Weetabix choc chip minis

Over on our sister site;ย  Zero Waste Shopping, one of our readers asked about Weetabix Choc Chip minis. She wrote: “this comes in a cardboard outer with an inner which looks and feels very much like 2-HDPE but the packaging states
“Inner is plastic and not recyclable at present”.

Not very helpful information from Weetabix is it? To be honest, I’ve got a bit of a bee in my bonnet about this whole packaging labelling lark at the moment. I’m getting increasingly frustrated with useless information such as “Plastic: not currently recycled”. Say What?So I wrote to Weetabix and asked:

Dear Sir,

Regarding your choc chip minis. You state that the inner is plastic and not recyclable at present.

Could you tell me, specifically what material the plastic inner is please?

You say on your site “Paper based materials can be recycled and used again. Where facilities exist, plastic packaging can be melted down and used for other products or incinerated, with energy recovery.” and

“Packaging in direct contact with food, i.e. cereal bags and biscuit wrappings, is always made from non recycled material. Packaging not in direct contact i.e. cartons, is primarily based on recycled paper.” but I cannot tell whether ‘facilities exist’ to recycle you plastic inners unless I know what that product is!

Yours faithfully,

Mrs Green.

To their credit, a day later I received this response:

Dear Mrs Green,

Many thanks for your enquiry.

The material used to the make the bags is high density polyethylene (HDPE).

Hope this helps and thank you again for taking the time to contact us.

Yours sincerely,

Dan Herrin

So there you go. That still means it is not recyclable around here, but perhaps you have a way to recycle it in your area.

Remember, Zero Waste Shopping is YOUR resource – every time you find a product or brand that has recyclable or compostable packaging or is sold loose, enter it into our simple form and you’ll never be stuck for ways to do your zero waste shopping again!

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About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (19)

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  1. LJayne says:

    It’s good to have an answer but we can’t recycle 2 here unless it is plastic bottles. Strangely, just a mile or so away, but over a county border, they can recycle all sorts of plastics.

  2. Jane says:

    Bravo! Only identification tells you whether you can actually recycle it anywhere in your area – although both pieces of information are interesting. Waiting for the percentage of recycling of that particular type of plastic to rise to whatever point they change to saying ‘can be recycled’ is just slowing down genuine recycling since if any particular LA doesn’t there will still always be a problem! Identify the packaging! I’m sure there’s much more recyclable polythene lurking. Even better to avoid though.

  3. Janet says:

    I was told the plastic type bags that hold the cereal, are recyclable in sainsbury plastic bag bin.

  4. Jane says:

    @Janet: Sainsbury’s mark up their packaging better than most AND provide the bins.

  5. Mrs Green says:

    @LJayne: Hi Lesley; it’s annoying to find that the recycling facilities vary so much county to county isn’t it?

    @Jane: It would be good if we could reduce the different types of plastic to such an extent that they could all be picked up across the UK – maybe in time …

    @Janet: Hi Janet; thanks for that. Good to know and helpful for others …

  6. Karin says:

    I remember when Weetabix used to be wrapped in something like greaseproof paper.

  7. Poppy says:

    @Karin:

    On plain ordinary weetabix, it used to be paper inners. I was mega disappointed on my first Zero Waste week push to find out that it was now mostly plastic inners ๐Ÿ™

  8. Mrs Green says:

    @Karin: I do too. I noticed Shredded Wheat still seems to be in paper…

  9. Gordon says:

    But the situation is even odder as “Organic Weetabix” comes in the old fashioned paper packaging.

    See my article here complete with photo:

    http://www.ecalpemos.org/2010/12/weetabix-and-plastic-packaging.html

    I can’t see any reason for the different packaging or any reason why standard Weetabix can’t be in paper.

  10. Mrs Green says:

    @Gordon: Hi Gordon, good to see you and thanks for all the info; very interesting. Let us know what Weetabix say!

  11. Jane says:

    There is plan – a cunning plan – to persuade us that energy from waste is recycling. It isn’t. It is energy from waste. Interesting to see today that Sheffield doesn’t have enough waste for its energy from waste incinerator and is applying for permission to extend its collection from neighbouring LAs. Germany and Holland already have too many of these incinerators and not enough waste so are importing. Let’s turn our attention to reducing the amount of energy we use!

  12. Gordon says:

    I used to work for an environmental organisation that ran kerbside paper recycling schemes (before local authorities did it). The amount of energy used in collecting the waste and then recycling it was considerable. Actually more than would have been used in making the original paper.

    Reuse is better than recycling and reducing packaging is preferable to either.

  13. Gordon says:

    Well, I emailed Weetabix on the evening of the 30th and got this reply by email on New Year’s eve which explains why some is in paper and some in plastic:

    Many thanks for your comments about the paper packaging.

    We conducted a short-term trial earlier this year on two of our 11 production lines to test the feasibility of returning to paper, which we used quite a while ago prior to changing to the film which has become the norm over the past 15 or so years.

    The trial has been concluded, so we are back to film and are assessing our findings on how it ran in the factory and, very importantly indeed, how our customers react when they find their biscuits wrapped differently.

    Your vote is clearly a positive one, and I have recorded it as such. You are definitely part of our market research!

    Ultimately, we may make the change but the jury is still out, so to speak. I can make no promises except to say the subject is very high on our current agenda.

    Thank you again for taking the time to contact us.

  14. Poppy says:

    @Gordon:

    Brilliant Gordon, thank you for pushing on this. As I said further up the page, the plastic wrapped Weetabix was a major disappointmet to me ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Mrs Green says:

    @Jane: I agree Jane; I simply cannot accept that ‘efw’ is a good idea at all. It is a complete waste of resources imo.
    @Gordon: Thanks for posting up a response. We all need to get onto them then and start ‘reacting’!

  16. Philippa says:

    The plastic wrapped Weetabix was a major disappointment to me too. We’ve now moved on to porridge in a cardboard box with no inner bag.

    On the subject of packaging I would like to be able to vote for good and bad packaging. I notice that you can vote for bad/excessive packaging on a website in NZ. We should also applaud design improvements.

  17. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Philippa, I’ve since learned that this sort of packaging can be recycled with the carrier bags at some sainsbury stores and tescos. I like your idea of voting for packaging. We set up a site a long time ago but it never gathered any interest! Have you seen http://www.thepeoplesdesignlab.org.uk/; you might find it interesting…

    • Jane says:

      What gets me is “laminated plastic” that is labelled “not currently recyclable”, though Bird Eye tell me that theirs is made from recycled plastic (ironic). The strange thing is there is plastic packaging for frozen veg around that can go in with the Sainsburys bag collection scheme, though maybe it’s not made from recycled plastic. So which is better? Maybe neither!
      It would help if all this damn plastic packaging were legally required to be correctly labelled to start with. It hardly encourages people having to faff around finding what’s what.
      What is that certain is that if you collect your household recyclable plastic for just one or two weeks for a supermarket based bag recycling scheme, it’s a truly frightening amount.

      • Mrs Green says:

        I hear you Jane; it’s amazing how reliant we’ve become on plastic. I have seen loose frozen fruit and vegetables in my local farm shop – I’ll dig out the photo and post it up!

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