In day three of our spotlight series of waste and recycling we look at the material that can’t be recycled, what happens to it and what are the supermarkets doing about it.

Reduce, re-use, recycle is the mantra for how to deal with the growing problem of household waste adding to the damage done to the environment.

We can re-use many products and recycle what can be recycled but sometimes reduce is more difficult.

So much of what people buy, particularly at the main supermarkets, is packaged in plastic labelled ‘not yet recycled’ or ‘do not recycle’.

READ MORE:Spotlight on waste: Glasgow's bulk uplift charges have changed the game

Most of this, and most household waste in Glasgow, still goes into the green bin, the general waste bin.

The council moved to a three weekly bin collection in a bid to get people using the blue recycling bin more.

The green bin is not so green, as it contains all the stuff that can’t be recycled.

Across Glasgow of the 350,000 tonnes of waste that is collected by the council around 200,000 tonnes is sent to the GRREC the Glasgow Recycling and Renewable Energy Centre every year.

The is equal to around 300kg per person in Glasgow a year or more than four times their own body weight.

READ MORE:Spotlight on recycling: Journey of a Glasgow blue bin

Laws designed to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill meant that other methods have been devised to deal with what we throw away

Councils are penalised financially if they sent too much waste to landfill.

At the GRREC, operated by Viridor, there is a three step process resulting in reducing the amount sent to landfill by 90%.

The council bin lorries bring in the bins every day, thousands upon thousands filled with all manner of material.

The Smart Materials Recycling Facility separates the waste to recover anything that can be recycled.

Glasgow Times:

Then, food and organic waste is removed to be converted into green energy through a process of anaerobic digestion.

The final stage takes what can’t be recycled and turning it into energy to heat homes.

It is heated to produce a synthetic gas enough to heat 22,000 homes.

Much of what is not recyclable and is being sent to the GRREC is plastic packaging and comes into homes from supermarket shopping.

Take a look at the contents of your shopping trolley at the supermarket.

Walk around the aisles and see how much plastic film, bags, other packaging is going to landfill or the incinerator.

As well as corporate responsibility, with more and more customers looking to make choices as consumers to reduce their own impact on the environment, there is an added economic incentive on retailers to improve their own environmental performance.

We asked the big six supermarkets what they are doing to reduce packaging waste and plastic from the shelves.

We put the question to the big four Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco as well as the two smaller but growing chains, Aldi and Lidl.

We asked what policies they have on reducing plastic packaging and on promoting recycling.

Particularly the number of products that are labelled ‘not yet recyclable’ or ‘do not recycle’.

Glasgow Times:

Morrisons said: “We introduced dedicated areas to buy loose fruit and vegetables to 63 stores during 2019, offering up to 127 loose varieties. In 2020 we extended the reach of this range to 332 of our 497 stores, meaning more customers can benefit from plastic free alternatives.

“So although our Partick store doesn’t have as many varieties, there are still options for customers to buy loose fruit and vegetables.”

Tesco said there is no place for unnecessary or excessive plastic in its business.

The supermarket giant said it has been working to remove plastic from its stores and is meeting its targets.

But, it said packaging is necessary for some fruit and veg to keep it fresh and that soft plastic packaging can be brought back to big stores and Tesco will recycle it.

It said it will take back clear film used to wrap meat and fish, crisp packets, fruit and veg bags and sweet wrappers that councils don’t recycle.

Aldi said it is responsible for 112,395 tonnes of plastic packaging sold in the UK. It said 90% is own brand goods.

Aldi said: “At Aldi, we are continually working to reduce the amount of plastic and packaging we use, and to ensure that the materials we do use are easy for our customers to recycle.

By working with our suppliers, we have already made many changes to improve our packaging and reduce our plastic usage.”

It said it includes removing plastic from yogurt saving 208 tonnes, switching to cardboard for fresh steak saving 1132 tonnes a year and removing plastic lids from baby wipes saving 535 tonnes a year.

Sainsbury’s said:”To make sure that we’re doing all we can to be better for the planet, we’ve set ourselves targets across core pillars in tackling climate change, including plastic and recycling.

“We have committed to reducing our use of plastic packaging by 50 per cent by 2025. We have also committed to increase the use of recycling in our own operations and make it easier for customers and colleagues to recycle.”

Sainsbury’s said their initiatives include removing plastic film and switching to loose broccoli in supermarkets and reducing plastic packaging across various fruit and vegetable lines in 2020 resulting in 350 tonne plastic reduction.

And reducing plastic packaging of Taste the Difference & So Organic Beef & Lamb steaks by 70%, resulting in 9 million plastic trays being removed from Sainsbury’s shelves and saving 266 tonnes of plastic.

Lidl said: "we are committed to reducing our plastic waste across our product range and have made strong progress across all areas of our reduced packaging targets. As a responsible retailer, we are committed to reducing plastic packaging in our stores by 40% by 2025.

"Further, to ensure that we can tackle both food and plastic waste in tandem, we have a comprehensive plastic reduction strategy in place, along with ambitious targets.

"This is centred around a progressive circular programme which captures and retains the valuable resources in our packaging. We are working towards this by ensuring 100% of own-brand packaging will be widely recyclable, reusable, refillable or renewable by 2025, helping to prevent plastic from ending up as waste."

Asda did not respond to our request.