Walkers has been inundated with empty crisp packets sent by consumers calling for the company to use environmentally friendly packaging
Campaigners have been flooding Walkers with empty crisp packets to pressure the company into introducing environmentally friendly packaging (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Walkers is to launch a nationwide recycling scheme for crisp packets following calls for the company to introduce environmentally friendly packaging.
The crisp packet recycling scheme – the first nationwide initiative of its kind in the UK – is due begin in December, Walkers has announced.
A campaign that saw environmentalists and consumers sending empty crisp packets back to Walkers using its freepost address garnered attention last month and led Royal Mail to plead with activists to put the packs in envelopes as failure to do so would cause delays to the mail sorting system.
Hundreds of collection points
Walkers plans to establish hundreds of crisp packet collection points across the country and will accept empty bags produced by all manufacturers.
Once the packets have been collected they will be cleaned, shredded and turned into small plastic pellets which will then be converted into useful plastic items, such as benches and fence posts, the company said.
The scheme has been developed in partnership with the recycling company TerraCycle with whom Walkers said it had been in discussions with since January, predating the freepost campaign.
Consumers will also be able to post their empty crisp packets for free in a box or envelope addressed to TerraCycle.
Walkers said it aims to make all of its packaging 100 per cent recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025 and that the company is funneling “significant” resources into developing the technology and infrastructure to make this happen.
Crisp packets, while technically recyclable, have not until this point been separated or collected on a large scale for this purpose.
Will other snack companies follow suit?
“We share people’s concerns about the amount of plastic in our environment and are working on a number of both short and long-term solutions to reduce the impact of our packaging,” said Ian Ellington, general manager of PepsiCo UK, Walkers’ parent company.
“We hope people will embrace this idea and join us in ensuring crisp packets are recycled.
“We’re determined to crack this in the long term and have a number of initiatives underway to create the right materials and environment for the crisp packets of the future.”
Laure Cucuron, general manager of TerraCycle Europe, said the company was “delighted” to be working with the UK’s largest crisp manufacturer and expressed hopes that other snack producers would follow suit, reducing the amount of packaging that is sent to landfill or to be incinerated.