Leading UK supermarkets should consider setting tough targets to increase the percentage of packaging waste they recycle and cut the amount they send to landfill says a Liberal Democrat report.

‘How green is your supermarket’ has been published after a taskforce headed by Lib Dem environment secretary Norman Baker questioned Asda, the Co-op, Marks & Spencer, Morrison, Safeway, Sainsburyis, Somerfield, Tesco and Waitrose to gauge their current environmental practices and see how they could be improved.

Its recommendations include a Government investigation into whether to amend existing packaging legislation to reduce the need for cardboard packaging; a call for supermarkets to introduce standard ‘green’ [plastic] trays to cut the need for secondary packaging; more Government research on lifecycle analyses of packaging options and encouraging supermarkets to use more biodegradable packaging.

The report, which reveals that the average UK shopper spends one sixth of their total annual food budget on packaging, is particularly severe on plastic bags, of which it says the supermarkets distribute 17bn annually.

It suggests the Government commissions further research into cutting their use but does acknowledge that half the supermarkets already offer biodegradable plastic bags, many offer customer recycling points, and all currently offer larger reusable bags.