Scottish Research Highlights Packaging Cost to Consumers

Shoppers are being urged to be aware of the financial cost and environmental of the single-use packaging being purchased in everyday products.

This follows research by Zero Waste Scotland, which has found that Scottish consumers are collectively buying more than 300,000 tonnes of single-use packaging for their groceries every year.

The estimated total annual cost to households of all this packaging is £600 million – roughly £250 per household per year – which is hidden within the overall price of their groceries.

Additionally, Scots pay around £40 million a year to cover the costs for local authorities to collect and manage all that single-use packaging once it is disposed of, the research suggested.

Michael Lenaghan, Zero Waste Scotland’s environmental policy advisor who carried out the research, said: “It’s easy to think of packaging as part of the product we want, rather than a product in its own right. In truth, when we buy 500ml of shampoo, we’re also buying a 500ml shampoo bottle, but the cost of that bottle is not evident.

“Packaging is not free.  Add it all up, and the average consumer spends a lot on single-use packaging. “And all this single-use packaging doesn’t just come with a cost for consumers, it also brings a significant cost to the environment.

“To be clear, the point of this is not to say that packaging is inherently bad, but that it is inherently a product, and like any other product, consumers can make more informed decisions about whether the service provided is worth the cost, if that cost is made clear upfront.”

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