Retailers have hit out at local authorities that say supermarkets should pay recycling costs because they produce too much waste.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said grocers produce too much packaging, of which almost 40 per cent is non-recyclable, and argues the chains should pay towards the collection of it.

The LGA said: “Excessive food packaging used by supermarkets is undermining householders’ efforts to recycle more and is adding to council tax bills. Supermarkets should pay towards recycling services so that more packaging can be recycled at an affordable price which will help keep council tax down.”

But the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said the LGA packaging survey “fails to acknowledge the key role packaging plays in preserving food and thereby reducing waste”.

The report found that Waitrose had the most wrapping while Tesco had the least. It also concluded that Lidl had the least recyclable products, while Sainsbury’s had the most.

But Waitrose said it had cut product packaging weight by more than a third since 2001.

In a statement the retailer said: "We are currently going through the report and believe it to be misleading. It fails to use accurate comparisons - a 500g tomato punnet at Waitrose is compared to a 250g punnet at most other stores.”

The LGA said since its first report in October 2007, the amount of food packaging created has decreased, but the amount recycled has stayed almost exactly the same.

The BRC’s head of environment Bob Gordon said: “It’s nonsense to suggest that retailers swathe their goods in masses of unnecessary packaging. Packaging reduces waste by protecting and preserving products.

“The LGA is right to say the overall weight of food packaging has been reduced. Retailers are working towards more sustainable packaging, using less material and more recycled content. Stores reward and encourage recycling. They also offer a variety recycling facilities where practical.

“Retailers pay over£5bn a year in business rates towards local authority funding. The biggest barrier to recycling is local authorities’ failure to agree on which materials they’re prepared to recycle."