UK grocery retailers have reacted angrily to the suggestion that supermarkets should pay towards recycling costs because they produce a large proportion of waste.

"Excessive food packaging used by supermarkets is undermining householders' efforts to recycle more and is adding to council tax bills," the Local Government Association claimed in a statement this morning (17 February).

"Supermarkets should pay towards recycling services so that more packaging can be recycled at an affordable price which will help keep council tax down," the organisation, which represents local authorities in the UK, said.

However, the British Retail Consortium refuted this suggestion, arguing that local governments should themselves be doing more to promote recycling.

"Supermarkets are an easy target," a spokesperson for the industry body told just-food.

"Local authorities could make a more useful contribution by coordinating what they will and will not recycle. If we had a more standardised approach, it would be easier to provide consumers with on-pack information about what is recyclable."

Local authorities operate a patchwork of recycling policies, the spokesperson said, pointing to the fact that only 15% of them will collect recyclable food trays used to package ready meals.

"Retailers already pay in excess of GBP5bn (US$7.13bn) in business rates, which goes towards funding all local authority services. In addition, many supermarkets provide in-store recycling facilities, which they fund themselves," the spokesperson indicated.

According to the BRC, supermarkets are already doing their bit to promote recycling, reduce packaging where possible and cut down on food waste.

While supermarkets are cutting back on packaging "where possible" some packaging is necessary to protect and preserve food - thereby reducing food waste, the BRC added.