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Eco-Eggs Report: the most sustainable Easter eggs revealed in new study

Brits are spoiled for choice when it comes to Easter eggs, but if you’re dreading the thought of spending Easter Sunday (4 April) surrounded by a bin full of waste, then we have some good news for you.

Painted Easter eggs

With around 80 million Easter eggs sold every year in the UK1, it is estimated that each child in the UK will receive an incredible nine eggs this Easter, costing consumers an estimated £381 million. Our energy team has investigated the potential environmental impact of satisfying our sweet tooth this Easter.

The Eco-Eggs Report analyses the environmental impact of 30 top-selling chocolate Easter eggs. The energy team at Uswitch looked at average price, weight, packaging, CO2 emissions, water usage and ingredients to reveal the UK’s most eco-friendly chocolate eggs to buy this Easter, with each one able to achieve a top score of 120.

Ranking 2021’s eco egg offerings

With a score of 106/120, it’s plant-based treat trail blazers Buttermilk that top the Eco-Egg ranking. Scoring top marks for their low CO2 emissions and water usage ensured the plant-based chocolate brand topped the list, beating brands such as Cadbury and Nestle.

Easter offerings from Cadbury and Nestle have amongst the highest CO2 emissions on the list, but it’s the Cadbury Dairy Milk Ultimate Crunchie Bits Easter Egg with 1.84kg CO2 emissions that’s bottom of the table.

The most sustainable chocolate brands revealed

Ferrero, Mars, Cadbury and Nestle are amongst the most well-known chocolate brands in the UK, but there are some differences when it comes to their commitment to sustainability.

We looked at five Easter eggs from each brand to reveal which brand is doing the most to ensure their eggs are as eco-friendly as possible.

Eco-Eggs Report - Most sustainable brands
  • Fererro (who are the parent brand for Thorntons and Kinder) scored 70/120 based on their low CO2 emissions and palm oil products - just one egg listed palm oil as a main ingredient. However, Fererro eggs scored poorly for their recyclable packaging, with just 82% widely recycled.

  • Mars (the parent brand for Maltesers, Celebrations, Bounty, M&Ms and Mars eggs) scored 66/120. We discovered that 80% of the Easter eggs analysed contained palm oil as an ingredient, however the packaging was 100% recyclable.

  • Cadbury (the parent brand for Dairy Milk, Caramel, Mini Eggs and Giant Buttons eggs) scored less than half of the available points for sustainability; 51/120. Each of the five eggs in the study listed palm oil as an ingredient, and the packaging was just 93% recyclable overall.

  • Nestle (the parent brand for Smarties, KitKat, After Eight, Yorkie and Rolo eggs) scored the lowest number of points against our sustainability benchmarks; 36/120. The emissions were estimated to be 1.38kg per egg and just four-fifths (80%) of the packaging was widely recycled.

In the UK, we predict 97,647 tonnes CO2e are released into the atmosphere each Easter

Our calculations predict that Easter 2021 will release 97,647 tonnes of carbon emissions into the atmosphere - which is the same as 100 return flights between London and New York, and the same weight as 13,949 elephants.

On average, Nestle Easter eggs were calculated to produce the highest amount of CO2e per egg at 1.38kg, followed by Cadbury at 1.18kg CO2e per chocolate egg. The brand with the lowest CO2e was Buttermilk, who produce plant-based chocolate eggs with just 0.56kg of CO2e per egg.

288bn litres of water used to produce Easter egg chocolate

It takes an astonishing 10,000 litres of water to make 1kg of the sweet stuff, which is about 125 bathtubs of water4. For the chocolate eggs estimated to be sold this Easter, we estimate that 288,044,640,000 litres of water will be used. To put this into perspective, that’s enough to fill 115,217 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The 30 eggs in the Eco-Eggs Report contain 8kg of chocolate. We calculate that to produce that 8kg of chocolate, over 80,000 litres of water would be required5, with eggs by Cadbury and Nestle needing the most.

7,200 tonnes of Easter egg packaging generated every year, but 91% can be recycled saving 2.3m kWh

Easter egg packaging typically makes up more than a quarter of total product weight in many of the UK’s best-selling chocolate eggs6. We estimate that 7,200 tonnes of packaging could be generated, based on the predicted sales of chocolate eggs.

Across the 30 top-selling eggs in the report, we found that 91% of the packaging was recyclable, meaning that 6,552 tonnes could be recycled7, which could save more than 2,340,000 kWh8.

73% of UK’s top-selling Easter eggs contain palm oil

The farming of oil palm trees is extremely bad for the environment as it destroys plants, wildlife and reduces biodiversity as areas are cleared to make way for the crops.

Environmental charity Greenpeace have been campaigning for over ten years to raise awareness around the problematic nature of palm oil production.

Of the 30 best-selling Easter eggs, 22 listed palm oil as one of the ingredients, including household brands such as Cadbury, Lindt and Nestle. The report found that almost three-quarters (73%) of best-selling Easter eggs still contain palm oil as a main ingredient.

Eight palm oil-free Easter egg picks for 2021

If an ethical Easter egg is high on your list this year, then we’ve hunted down eight palm oil-free eggs you can buy at the supermarket*. 

  1. Guylian 11 Belgian Chocolate Sea Shells & Luxury Milk Chocolate Egg £7.00 from Sainsbury’s

  2. Sainsbury’s Billionaires Milk Chocolate Egg £4.00 from Sainsbury’s

  3. Bounty Milk Chocolate Egg With 3 Fun Size Bars £3.00 from Tesco

  4. Thorntons Bunny Milk Chocolate £4.00 from Tesco

  5. Thorntons Milk Chocolate Dinosaur Easter Egg £3.00 from Asda

  6. Lindt Gold Bunny Milk Chocolate Egg £8 from Morrisons

  7. Waitrose Caramel Squiggle Easter Egg £5.60 from Waitrose

  8. Buttermilk Salted Caramel Crunch Choccy Egg £6 from Sainsbury’s

*All prices correct at time of writing

Energy-saving Easter lunch cooking tips from Uswitch

Our report has uncovered the impact that our Easter celebrations could be having on the environment; what other ways can we offset our carbon footprint (and our energy bills) to be more energy-efficient this Easter?

The energy experts at Uswitch have compiled these tips for households looking to reduce the amount of energy they use, especially when cooking up a storm in the kitchen on Easter weekend.

  • If you’re rustling up roast lamb on Easter Sunday, make sure the seal on your oven door is keeping all the heat in. Not only will your roast cook more evenly, but you’ll also be saving energy too.

  • Keep the oven door closed while you're cooking (especially if you’re cooking Yorkshire puddings) as sneaking a peek at your delicious roast can see temperatures drop by as much as 25 degrees, and will require more energy to get back up to that optimum roasting temperature.

  • For the perfect crispy roast potatoes, boil them in a saucepan before roasting them in the oven. Not only will you reduce cooking time and save energy, but you’ll also have a crispier roastie to serve with your meal.

  • If you’re cooking a large joint of meat, it could be worth cutting it into smaller pieces so it will cook more evenly and quickly.

  • For the veggies, use a double steamer so you can layer vegetables on top of each other and still use one ring on your hob. This will reduce the amount of water you have to heat and rings needing to be used.

  • If you can use the microwave, then do. You can cook frozen vegetables really quickly and easily this way, and it is by far the most energy-efficient appliance in the kitchen, costing just 21p per hour of use.

However much energy you might be using in the kitchen, it’s important to make sure you’re not paying too much for it. The easiest way to do this is to sign up for a fixed rate tariff for between 12 and 24 months and then ensure you don’t roll over onto a potentially expensive standard variable tariff at the end of it.

You can compare gas and electricity prices with Uswitch to check that you're on the cheapest tariff that matches your usage and living circumstances. It only takes a few minutes and you could save an average of £216*.

*Between 1 July 2020 and 31 December 2020, people who switched energy suppliers for both gas & electricity with Uswitch saved an average of £216.

Methodology

Taking the 30 best-selling Easter eggs from Waitrose, Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s (which included supermarket own-brand chocolate eggs), we analysed the following data points:

  • CO2 Emissions (3.39kg CO2e per KG of Chocolate)

  • Water used (10,000 litres of water per 1kg of chocolate)

  • Percentage of packaging widely recycled (carton, foil, insert, plastic, paper, wrap, film, bag, window, fitment, tray)

  • Palm oil in the ingredients list

Each of the data points above was scored out of 30, giving a top Eco-Egg score of 120.

We also collected the following data points to allow us to make the following calculations:

  • Average price

  • Average weight

Specific calculations:

Each child will receive nine chocolate eggs this Easter, and we predict that there will be 107,640,000 sold in the UK, weighing 28,804,464kg (based on each egg weighing an average 267.6g). Per 1kg of chocolate, we calculated that 3.39kg of CO2e would be created. Based on 107,640,000 eggs being sold, this would produce 97,647,132.96kg CO2e (or 97,647 tonnes of CO2e).

On average, every child in the UK will receive 8.8 Easter eggs - accessed 22nd March via Royal Mail: https://www.postoffice.co.uk/my-family/easter-gift-guide

CO2 Emissions per chocolate Easter egg was calculated as 3.39kg per kg of chocolate via Environmental impacts of chocolate production and consumption in the UK. Antonios Konstantas, H. Jeswani. Accessed via Semantic Scholar on 22nd March 2021.
https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Environmental-impacts-of-chocolate-production-and-Konstantas-Jeswani/1efdb55024cdb5237665238b865a067aaef0bbea

Return flight between London Heathrow and New York generates around 978kg of CO2e per passenger, divided by 97,647 tonnes of CO2e generated via chocolate production. Accessed via https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2019/jul/19/carbon-calculator-how-taking-one-flight-emits-as-much-as-many-people-do-in-a-year and an African Elephant weighs around 6 tonnes.

A standard bathtub holds 80 litres of water accessed via This Is Money: https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-2067090/Taking-shower-bath-save-water-It-just-money-drain.html 22nd March 2021

Each child will receive nine chocolate eggs this Easter, and we predict that there will be 107,640,000 sold in the UK, weighing 28,804,464kg (based on each egg weighing an average 267.6g).

According to a report by Antonios Konstantas, H. Jeswani, 10,000 litres of water are needed to produce 1kg of chocolate, therefore 288,044,640,000 litres of water would be used to create Easter egg chocolate this year.

Report: Antonios Konstantas, H. Jeswani. Accessed via Semantic Scholar on 22nd March 2021.
https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Environmental-impacts-of-chocolate-production-and-Konstantas-Jeswani/1efdb55024cdb5237665238b865a067aaef0bbea

Statistics accessed via https://www.gwp.co.uk/guides/easter-packaging/ on 22nd March 2021.

267.6g is the average egg weight from the list. 267.6g x 9 eggs per child = 2408.4g According to data from Which?, a quarter of that weight is packaging so 2408.4g /4 = 602.10g packaging per person. There are approx 11,960,000 children aged 0-15 which means 602.10 * 11,960,000 = 7,201,116kg of waste generated, or 7,200 tonnes.

Figures from WRAP state that 6,000 tonnes of waste could save 2,340,000 kWh of energy by being recycled.