Easter egg shoppers are paying up to five times the price of regular chocolate for fancier packaging, at a high cost to the environment.
Scouring the shelves of Coles, Woolworths and Aldi, The New Daily found that Lindt, Cadbury, Ferrero, Chocolatier and Kinder were some of the most expensive Easter products, per gram of chocolate.
The costliest was a Lindt box with a chocolate egg, bunny and carrots at $12.46 per 100 grams, five times the price of a regular chocolate slab.
The giant Grand Ferrero Rocher cost $8.25 per 100g and a Kinder Surprise Maxi Pink Egg was priced at $8 per 100g.
Cadbury and Lindt blocks, priced at only about $2.50 per 100g, were far cheaper – and sold with much less harmful packaging.
Dr Trevor Thornton, hazardous materials expert at Deakin University, said consumers needed to realise they were effectively paying a premium at Easter time for fancy packaging, at the expense of the environment.
“I’d say that most consumers probably don’t think too much about environmental impacts or the fact that they’re paying more for the extra packaging, but they probably should,” he told The New Daily.
Many of the Easter eggs currently on Australian supermarket shelves were “over-packaged”, Dr Thornton said.
A recent audit of British supermarket shelves, which stock similar Easter eggs as Australia, supported this warning. Shockingly, it found that packaging accounted for 25 per cent of the weight of the average Easter egg.
Easter chocolates are harmful to the environment because they often use plastic windows, which make the products difficult to recycle, Dr Thornton said.
“Foil is generally recyclable – most councils will accept it – and cardboard is recyclable,” he said.
“The trouble is that often these Easter gifts are packaged in cardboard with clear plastic windows and whenever you have two different materials, it becomes more difficult to recycle because contamination can occur.
“When materials get sorted at a recycling facility, cardboards and plastics get diverted to different bins. Plastics in composite packaging go to the landfill rather than being recycled.”
Value for money: The worst Easter chocolate offenders
Dr Thornton said this increased the environmental impact as plastics take a long period of time to break down and cardboard emits greenhouse gases, when these resources could have been recovered for recycling purposes.
“There should be more pressure on manufacturers to do something about this and to, at the very least, make their packaging out of recycled material,” he said.
“Tonnes and tonnes of waste could be prevented by chocolate manufacturers using recycled material and light-weighting their packaging by using the same material but not as thick.”
New research suggests there are a growing number of Australians who prefer to pay more for “higher quality” chocolate such as Lindt and Haigh’s than a larger quantity of cheaper chocolates, according to IBISWorld data.
A spokeswoman for Mondelēz International, the company that owns Cadbury, said it aimed to make its Easter packaging as “special and presentable as possible”.
“Packaging plays a key role in this,” she said.
“Globally, one of our sustainability goals is to eliminate 65,000 tons of packaging material by 2020 to help minimise waste.
“We’ve made substantial progress in our packaging reduction goals and to date we have successfully eliminated 46,300 metric tonnes of packaging.”
Lindt was also contacted for comment but did not respond by deadline.