Which? unwraps the reality of festive chocolate packaging

The packaging of popular Christmas chocolates can make up almost half the total weight, according to new research by Which?.


Which? looked at the top 13 best-selling boxes of chocolates and found that Ferrero Rocher Collection was the worst offender with 42 per cent of the total weight taken up by packaging and only 11 per cent of that packaging being recyclable.


Thorntons Continental Selection came in second with packaging taking up 29.4 per cent of the whole weight and Cadbury’s Milk Tray third with 22.6 per cent. However, the recyclable components were 87 per cent and 93 per cent respectively.


On the other hand, Lindt Lindor Mix only contained 11.5 per cent packaging, with only the individual chocolate wrappers not being recyclable. Marks & Spencer The Big One
Selection has the least packaging at just 8.5 per cent, although you would only be able to recycle 71 per cent of it.


Which? found you could recycle over 80 per cent of the packaging of the majority of popular chocolate boxes. However, there was confusion when asking people what the different recycling symbols meant and how they would actually go about recycling.


Half (48%) wrongly identified the green dot, that is regularly found on packaging, as a sign that the packaging can be recycled. The green dot actually means that the manufacturer pays into a recycling scheme, and the packaging may not be suitable for recycling.


Nikki Stopford, Director of Research and Publishing at Which?, said:

“For many of us the indulgent look of these festive chocolate boxes is synonymous with the Christmas season.

“We are more aware than ever of the impact that we’re having on the world around us – so we want our research to help people to make the right choices for them and to understand how to dispose of packaging in the most eco-friendly manner.”


Recycling advice


  • Boxes of chocolates are often individually wrapped in foil, which is marked as recyclable on the box. Foil wrappers can be recycled but you need to make a bundle of at least 4cm in diameter for it to actually be identified at the recycling centre.


  • The plastic tubs that Celebrations, Roses, Quality Street, Heroes, Morrisons Mega Mix and Chocolate Treats by Sainsbury’s are made of PET 1. This is the same plastic that water and soft drinks bottles are made of. Easily recycled, this is collected by 99% of local authorities.
  • For more advice on recycling and what you can and can’t recycle, head over to the Recycle Now website.


Full table of chocolate packaging weight


Chocolate Weight in packaging (g) Packaging weight (g) Percentage packaging
Ferrero Rocher Collection 359g 642 272 42.4%
Waitrose Christmas Chocolate
Favourites 240g
356 108 30.3%
Thorntons Continental Selection 284g 408 120 29.4%
Cadbury’s Milk Tray 360g 470 106 22.6%
Mars Malteser Teasers 275g 364 70 19.2%
Chocolate Treats By Sainsburys 650g 806 154 19.1%
Mars Celebrations 650g 812 150 18.5%
Cadbury’s Heroes 660g 808 144 17.8%
Cadbury’s Roses 660g 810 144 17.8%
Nestle Quality Street 720g 846 130 15.4%
Morrisons Mega Mix 1.05kg 1216 162 13.3%
Lindt Lindor Assorted Mix 384g 384 44 11.5%
Marks & Spencer The Big One
Selection 600g
662 56 8.5%


Full table of recyclable packaging


Chocolate box Weight in packaging (g) Percentage easily recyclable
Waitrose Christmas Chocolate Favourites 240g 356 96.3%
Cadbury’s Milk Tray 360g 470 92.5%
Lindt Lindor Assorted Mix 337g 384 90.9%
Mars Celebrations 650g 812 90.7%
Cadbury’s Roses 660g 810 90.3%
Cadbury’s Heroes 660g 808 88.9%
Mars Malteser Teasers 275g 364 88.6%
Chocolate Treats By Sainsburys 650g 806 88.3%
Thorntons Continental Selection 284g 408 86.7%
Nestle Quality Street 720g 846 83.1%
Morrisons Mega Mix 1.05kg 1216 81.5%
Marks & Spencer The Big One Selection 600g 662 71.4%
Ferrero Rocher Collection 359g 642 11%




  • Which? selected the top branded and supermarket chocolate selection boxes that take up the biggest share of the festive chocolate market to create a snapshot of what is going on with packaging.
  • To find out how the chocolate and packaging compared, Which? weighed all of the chocolates in their packaging. They then weighed the packaging on its own. To make sure they were getting accurate results, they unwrapped every element of the chocolate box.


Rights of reply:


Ferrero / Thorntons


The packaging we use is carefully designed to maintain the freshness and quality that is the hallmark of Ferrero products. Ferrero Collection is a delicately created product and the packaging is of fundamental importance to protect our chocolates from damage during transport, in the shops and at home. To maintain the integrity and upmost quality for our consumers we package the product in its distinctive box, appreciated by consumers.

The box used for Ferrero Collection can be recycled only when the local infrastructure allows to do so but in the UK this is still not available. We are aware that some consumers like to reuse the boxes in fun and creative ways like those suggested on our website. The durable box, designed specifically for Ferrero Collection, fulfils this important criteria

Furthermore, Ferrero Collection is mainly bought as a gift during Christmas, so packaging tends to be more than for products bought on a daily basis.


Thorntons Continental packaging has been updated with a new hermetic tray seal, which ensures product freshness and avoids cross flavour tainting from the most intense tastes as Espresso or Sicilian Mousse. We are always reviewing our product range to ensure that we offer our consumers high quality taste experience.



A spokesperson for Cadbury says “Cadbury makes a committed effort as a brand to make sustainable decisions. Without robust packaging, the shelf life of many products would be far shorter and could create more food waste which is ten times more detrimental to the environment than plastic. We have managed to make substantial progress to minimize the environmental impact of packaging by developing products that are 100% recyclable (depending on your local recycling facilities) while also protecting the product inside and keeping it fresh. All details of recyclability are clearly detailed on pack.”

Mondelez’s top line commitments are:

  • All paper-based packaging will be sustainably sourced by 2020.
  • 65 million kg of packaging material worldwide will be eliminated by 2020. This builds off the company’s success in removing 53.5 million kg of packaging material since 2013 and is consistent with its commitment to use the right amount of material to keep products fresh and safe while minimizing the amount of packaging used.
  • Make all packaging recyclable and provide recycling information in markets around the world by 2025


Mars Wrigley Confectionery UK

A spokesperson from Mars Wrigley Confectionery UK said:

“Our packaging is designed to maintain the freshness of our products and ensure that they reach our consumers in top quality condition.

“We are continuing to work towards 100% recyclable packaging by 2025 by collaborating with our partners and peers to learn more about the best ways to enable recycling – for example, we’re a core partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative.

“Beyond recycling, we’re also looking for new ways to further reduce our packaging footprint by working with our material suppliers to create new materials and product formats.”


Lindt & Sprüngli


We would like to point out once more that the topic of plastic waste is important to us.

Packaging is a very essential part of the supply chain at Lindt & Sprüngli. Therefore please be assured that we take the matter of plastic waste extremely seriously and we make sustainability a priority for our packaging. We see it as our permanent duty to consider, and wherever possible also realize, any potential improvement to our packaging.

Overall, Lindt & Sprüngli is committed to aiming at using 100% recyclable materials and plastic free packaging wherever possible.

This commitment also includes the assessment of the current Lindor packaging, which is characterized by its distinctive wrapping. It services as both protection for the praline from external influences such as undesirable odors, light and temperature but also as an appealing packaging.

For some products as for example our Easter Eggs, we already took action and re-designed our packaging-heavy Easter egg products in the UK for 2019. Furthermore, a re-engineering of our Easter packages will remove non-essential plastic components by 2020.




“How we package our products is fundamental to how we keep them fresh and deliver them safely to the people who will ultimately consume them. With a product like Quality Street we also have the added consideration of tradition. Quality Street is well known as an assortment of chocolates and toffees that come individually twist-wrapped in a tin, tub or carton. A lot of work has gone into making our Quality Street packaging as sustainable as possible. Our tins, plastic tubs, cardboard cartons and foil can all be recycled while the cellophane wrappers are compostable.

“As founding signatories to the WRAP Plastics Pact, we are absolutely looking into alternatives for any of our current packaging which is not yet recyclable. Again, it will be vital to make sure that any alternative keeps our products in top condition from manufacture to consumption and we are looking at ways we can do that. Earlier this year we pledged to make all of our packaging either recyclable or re-usable by 2025 and the work we are doing in this space, to research, develop and trial new packaging ideas, is all designed to help us meet that target.”




All the packaging for this product is widely recyclable apart from the film which is there to protect the chocolates and to prolong shelf life.  The black plastic insert tray has recently been replaced by rPET which is more widely recyclable.

We have removed all (hard to recycle) black plastic  from our own label boxed chocolates range and we’ve recently brought forward our target to make all our own-brand packaging widely recycled, reusable or home compostable from 2025 to 2023.



We’re committed to ensuring our packaging is as recyclable as it can be. Where we can’t offer a recyclable alternative, we’ll look to use as little of it as possible.

However, it’s important to remember that the purpose of packaging is to protect products through our supply chain, in our stores and in customers’ homes to ensure they don’t get damaged or contaminated.

That said, we’re always looking at ways to improve our packaging and we’re ensuring chocolate is included in our reviews going forward.



Press Release