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Whisky named as recycling ‘villain’


Whisky has been identified as one of the ‘villains’ when it comes to product recycling, thanks to the mix of materials typically used in its packaging.

Whisky packaging
In the mix: Combining multiple materials makes packaging harder to recycle, say experts

The industry was highlighted in a hitlist of products that are most challenging to reuse, drawn up by Simon Ellin, CEO of the UK Recycling Association and reported by the BBC.

The worst offenders identified by Ellin include Pringles crisp tubes, Lucozade Sport plastic drink bottles, cleaning spray bottles, black plastic food trays and whisky packaging.

‘It grieves me to say this as one who likes his whisky, but whisky causes us problems,’ Ellin said. ‘The metal bottom and top to the sleeve, the glass bottle, the metal cap… very hard for us.’

Many of the products highlighted include multiple material types, which makes it difficult for recycling machines to identify and separate them.

David Williamson, spokesman for the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), said a commitment to environmental sustainability was ‘at the heart’ of the Scotch whisky industry, reflected in the association’s recently revamped environmental strategy.

He added: ‘In relation to packaging, one of the four key themes of the strategy is to embrace the “circular economy” in the industry supply chain.

‘Our aim is to use resources for as long as possible, extracting maximum value from them and recovering and regenerating materials.

‘For example, by 2020 no general waste will go to landfill, compared with 13% in 2008, and 98% of all Scotch whisky packaging is now reusable or recyclable.’

The recycling report comes on the day that the US$2m New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize is launched – a joint competition from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the Prince of Wales International Sustainability Unit and philanthropist Wendy Schmidt.

The prize fund, launched in London by the Prince of Wales, aims to encourage inventors to come up with products that easily recycled and practical for everyday use.

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