Following months of consumer protests against its hard-to-recycle packaging, which typically consists of a flexible plastic layer and metallised film, PepsiCo subsidiary Walkers has opened the scheme’s first collection points today.

The method involves cleaning and shredding the crisp packets, allowing them to be melted into small plastic pellets that can then be incorporated into products such as fence posts and furniture.

Under the scheme, consumers will be encouraged to deposit used crisp packets at one of the hundreds of public collection points that will be developed, or to post them to TerraCycle free of charge. Packaging from any crisp brand will be accepted.

“This is the first crisp packet recycling scheme in the UK and it will only work if everyone gets collecting and sending in, which is why we’ve made the scheme as simple as possible and free,” PepsiCo UK’s general manager Ian Ellington said.

“It is another important step towards our ambition to make all of our packaging 100% recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025.”

The launch of the scheme comes after analysis by campaign organisation 38 Degrees found that Walkers is set to produce an additional 28 billion plastic crisp packets by 2025 – the date by which the company has pledged to make its packaging 100% recyclable, compostable or biodegradable.

This analysis spurred the launch of the #PacketInWalkers social media campaign, which saw thousands of customers posting their used crisp packets back to Walkers’ UK headquarters to demand that the company took greater responsibility for the environmental impact of its packaging. 

Environment Secretary Michael Gove welcomed the launch of the recycling scheme, praising it as an effective way to reduce plastic pollution in waterways and oceans.

“As the custodians of our planet, we must take action now to protect our oceans and wildlife from single-use plastic pollution,” Gove said.

“Walkers is setting a fine example with this new scheme and I want to see other companies step up, follow suit and reduce their environmental impact.“

Partnerships for packaging 

Since first announcing that it would launch a recycling scheme with Walkers in October, TerraCycle has partnered with several other big-name brands to develop similar collection and recycling initiatives, including confectionary giant pladis UK & Ireland

The company, which owns McVitie’s and Jacob’s, has been working with TerraCycle since 2012, but renewed this partnership after pledging to make all plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025 under WRAP’s UK plastic pact. 

TerraCycle has also forged new partnerships with Mars Petcare, Colgate Palmolive and Kellogg in recent months, launching schemes targeting pet food packaging, oral healthcare products and Pringles cans. 

Sarah George 

Comments (6)

  1. Tim Beesley says:

    So, can you provide an address to send crisp packets to? Is there a specific Freepost address to use? It would be good to start spreading full news about the facility here and now in this article. I’ll pull a few packets out of my bin to send straight away! I looked at Terracycle’s web site previously and found no mention of this following your previous article.

  2. Lina Kerpauskaite says:

    It seems like a waste of resources to focus on individual recycling schemes: eg coffee cups, coffee grounds, tetrapacks, now crisp packets. They all use resources to make the containers, need space, extra transport emissions and most importantly will capture only the fraction of the total product that is discarded. Why not focus our efforts to the packaging design so it is easily recycled and/or the technical solutions and boosting capabilities of clean and dirty MRFs that actually process majority of the material? Just thinking out loud…

  3. Martin Lamb says:

    Well collecting them is a start I suppose and at least they are being diverted/prevented from contributing to marine pollution and general litter but a circular economy solution this treatment is not. In reality it is just another stop on the way to the tip…surface landfill by any other name. If we’re not careful we’ll be buried in plastic wood. #SurfaceLandfill

  4. John Mathias says:

    I presume they going to recycle any brand of crisp packet that is deposited at their recycling points and not just their own?

  5. John Mathias says:

    I presume they’re going to recycle any brand of crisp packet that is deposited at their recycling points and not just their own?

  6. Rebecca Fleet says:

    Has anyone managed to get duty of care documentation from the recycling facilities that Terracycle use?

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