London - At first glance, the bottle of Lucozade energy drink looks exactly like the sort of item I ought to be chucking into the recycling bin when I’m done. After all, the symbols on the back tell me that the bottle is made of plastic which is "widely recycled", though I should "check local recycling" when it comes to the cap.
Other symbols also hint at its green credentials, including a triangle of chasing arrows (called a mobius loop) which explain it is made from recyclable PET plastic.
What the bottle doesn’t tell me is that the glossy printed "sleeve" that snugly encases it is made from polymer film. This may make the drinks stand out on the supermarket shelf, but it renders the bottles impossible to recycle properly.
Every day, millions of us drop a plastic bottle or cardboard container into the recycling bin — and we feel we’re doing our bit for the environment.
But what we may not realise is that many of our empties never get recycled at all, often ending up in landfill or incineration depots instead.
Often the problem is that packaging is made up of several different types of recyclable material — such as a cardboard cup laminated in plastic to make it watertight — meaning it can’t be easily stripped to its component parts for recycling.