Crunch time for Walkers over non-recyclable crisp packets

8th August 2018 | Recycling

The UK’s biggest crisp brand, Walkers, will come under pressure this week to explain why it is helping to fuel the plastic waste littering the streets and seas by producing more than 7,000 non-recyclable crisp packets every minute. A new analysis carried out by campaign organisation 38 Degrees has found that Walkers is set to produce an additional 28bn plastic crisp packets by 2025 – the date by which the company has pledged to make its crisp packets 100% recyclable, compostable or biodegradable.

Crisps and “crisp-style snacks” are popular staples in British households, regularly eaten by 90% of adults, according to a recent Mintel report. UK consumers much their way through 6bn packets of crisps a year. But, although the inside of conventional crisp packets are shiny and look like foil, they are in fact a metallised plastic film. The government-funded body Recycle Now – part of its waste advisory body Wrap (Waste and Resources Action Programme) – advises that no packets are currently recyclable and that they should be put in the rubbish rather than the recycling bin.

Non-recyclable crisp packets

Beach-cleaning volunteers in Cornwall have retrieved old Walkers packets believed to date from the 1980s and 1990s. On Tuesday, a 38 Degrees petition calling on Walkers and other manufacturers to stop using plastic packaging in its crisp packets will be handed in to the food and drink giant Pepsico, Walkers’ parent company. Geraint Ashcroft of Cardiff, who started the petition, which now has 270,000 signatures, is meeting senior executives from the firm.

Plastic waste has become a charged issue, with TV programmes such as Blue Planet II exposing its impact on the oceans and regular warnings being made over the dangers of a global plastic binge.
Walkers produces 11m crisp packets a day at its Leicester factory – one of the world’s largest crisp production plants. That means 7,000 non-recyclable crisp packets are being produced every minute and more than 4bn a year, 38 Degrees says.

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