More plastic than chocolate? Christmas treats rated best to worst for unnecessary packaging

4 Nov 2021
4 min read

The information in this article was correct at the time of writing but may no longer be up to date. 

Is your favourite festive selection box on Santa’s naughty list?

Christmas is the perfect time to kick back in front of the TV and get stuck into a big box of choccies. But how often have you lifted the lid only to be disappointed at the small amount of chocolate inside? Manufacturers use all kinds of packaging tricks to make their products appear bigger and therefore give the impression that you’re getting better value for money. But often this isn’t the case, and you’re left with fewer sweet treats and a load of unnecessary packaging that’s just harming the environment.

Here, we rate some of the most popular festive chocolate goodies in terms of packaging eco-friendliness, so you know which ones have made Santa’s nice list this year, and which are firmly in the naughty camp. 

The best performers

Terry’s Chocolate Orange, £1: 10/10

The humble Chocolate Orange is a Christmas classic, and fans will be pleased to hear it’s our top performer. With a hefty 157g of chocolate compared to just 15g of packaging you’re getting good value for money, and the only part of the packaging that will end up in landfill is its outer foil wrapper.

After Eights, £2: 9/10

Individually-wrapped chocolates are usually bad news for the environment, but these ones can be recycled along with the box. Plus, the packaging (43g) is so light you’re mainly paying for the chocolate (300g), making these festive staples a winner.

Celebrations tub, £3.99: 8/10

One of the best chocolate (650G) to packaging (153g) ratios on the list, here, and while the wrappers and tub are not recyclable, a symbol on the product indicates that Mars has offset the environmental cost of this with a financial contribution. Plus, the tub is durable and can be reused over and over.

Thornton’s Classic Collection, £9.75: 7/10

A solid crowd-pleaser in terms of flavour, and an all-round decent eco-performer, too. The chocolate (262g) to packaging (84g) ratio is alright, and while the tray is made of plastic, each of the 24 chocolates come in an individual case that’s recyclable.

Moo Free selection box, £3.99: 7/10

As Moo demonstrates, those with special dietary needs no longer have to pay a premium. This box contains four dairy-free chocolate bars in different flavours, plus a packet of chocolate buttons. The chocolate (105g) to packaging (76g) ratio is not great, but everything can be recycled, making this the perfect choice for vegans and those with other dietary requirements.

The average performers

M&M & Friends selection box, £2: 6/10

A cheap and cheerful festive selection, this one, but despite its low price more than a third of its cost is spent on the packaging (79g). The chocolate (144g) wrappers can’t be recycled, but the cardboard box can be.

Milky Way & Friends selection box, £2: 6/10

The same deal as the M&M box, although this one contains slightly less chocolate (127g) compared to its 79g packaging. Again, the wrappers can’t be recycled, but the cardboard box can go in to the household recycling bin.

M&S Milk, Dark & White Chocolate Box, £16: 5/10

A decent chocolate (350g) to packaging (50G) ratio here, but at £16 this is the priciest offering on the list, so only you can decide whether that’s value for money or not. To be fair, there are 72 chocolates in each box, so it should keep the family going throughout the Christmas period. Letting the side down, however, is the fact that the product is made in Belgium but packed in Poland, adding to its carbon footprint.

The worst performers

Quality Street Purely Purple Ones, £3.50: 3/10

Three-quarters of the product is chocolate (432g), but the packaging (338g) is substantial, with loads of non-recyclable wrappers and a big plastic bowl which – if not reused – will probably be binned and end up in landfill.

Ferrero Rocher tray (24), £6: 3/10

Given the luxe status of Ferrero Rocher you might think that £6 is a bargain for a tray of chocolates (300g) this size – and perhaps it is. But its packaging (252g) lets the side down. Each chocolate is individually wrapped in foil, and the chunky plastic box can only be recycled at special TerraCycle drop-off locations.

Lindt Lindor Maxi Ball, £10: 3/10

Compared to the Lindt Festive Selection the Maxi Ball offers slightly more value for money in terms of its chocolate (550g) to packaging (242g) ratio, but it’s let down by its recyclability: only the gift tag can be recycled.

Lindt Festive Selection, £10: 1/10

With 400g of chocolate and a whopping 518g of packaging, this is the worst offender for both value and eco-friendliness as the (deceptively few) chocolates inside account for less than half the total weight of the product.

The bottom line

We all love Christmas chocolates but the pointless plastic packaging has to go. Easter eggs have had a makeover to reduce waste, so it’s about time our festive favourites do too. Let’s hope next year Santa can add more brands to his nice list!


The information in this article was correct at the time of writing and is provided for guidance only. Please see the full disclaimer in our terms and conditions.

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