Walkers, the UK-based crisp production giant, has partnered with TerraCycle and set up a recycling scheme for its crisp packets following recent protests by campaigners. This is the first solid change the firm has made towards becoming more eco-friendly despite growing pressure from the general public and campaign groups such as 38 Degrees.
The postal protests earlier this year, organised by 38 Degrees, saw customers posting their empty crisp packets back to Walkers. This overwhelmed not only the snack firm but also Royal Mail, who struggled to deal with the sudden influx of post which had to be hand-sorted. The campaign really took off on social media, with people sharing photos of themselves posting their crisp packets off, alongside the hashtag #PacketInWalkers.
There was also a petition earlier this year which gained over 330,000 signatures, requesting that Walkers use more eco-friendly packaging. This petition followed on from numerous incidents where members of the general public found Walkers crisp packets dating back decades on beaches and in other locations. This is because the packaging is not biodegradable, which makes it a hazard to wildlife and the environment in general.
The new packaging recycling service for Walkers crisp packets is being offered through a combination of collection points across the UK and a free courier service for those who can’t access the collection points.
A Walkers spokesman said:
"Crisp packets are technically recyclable, the issue until now has been that they weren't being separated or collected for recycling. This scheme will tap into an established network of recycling collection points around the UK. It is simple and free to use, all brands of crisp packets will be accepted and will ultimately be turned into other basic plastic items."
This means that packaging from any crisps can now be recycled through this TerraCycle service for free.
The executive director of 38 Degrees, David Babbs, said of the new service:
“The public will be watching to make sure the new recycling scheme isn't just a PR stunt."
This is not a permanent solution for crisp packets, and Walkers is still committed to making all of its packaging 100 per cent recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025. In fact, they are currently trialling compostable packets in India, Chile and the USA — hoping to go one step further than recycling.
PepsiCo spokesman, Duncan Gordon said:
“It is a really difficult challenge to crack. We are investing millions of pounds with an expert team here in the UK and around the world to develop the next version of our crisp packaging.”
While the firm is keen to find an alternative for its current packaging, the quality of their food is always going to be a priority — and crisps need a strong oxygen barrier to keep them fresh and edible.
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