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Crunch Time! Kerbside-Recyclable Crisp Packets

A British company has just launched the first fully kerbside-recyclable crisp packet, allowing you to snack with a clear conscience.

As companies race to replace single-use plastics with more sustainable packaging, the latest frontier in the fight for recycling is crisp packets. With an estimated eight billion crisp packets thrown away in the UK every year, the vast majority sent to incinerators or landfill, being able to recycle the packaging of one of the world’s favourite snacks would be a massive step forward for the environment.

As one of the UK’s leading snack companies, Walkers has invested a lot of time and money into converting the packaging of some of its top brands. Following a successful trial last year, it switched the outer bag for its Baked multipacks to a paper-based material, which can be widely recycled in home recycling bins.

More recently, the company announced it was changing the outer bag of its Snack A Jacks multipacks to paper, reducing the brand’s use of virgin plastic by 65 tonnes per year and lowering the greenhouse gas emissions of each pack by 52%.

“Our outer paper multi-bag packs are working well on Walkers Baked, giving us the confidence to roll out this format across more of our snack brands,” said Gareth Callan, UK Packaging Sustainability Lead at Walkers’ parent company PepsiCo. “The new packaging will help further reduce our non-fossil plastic use, while also helping to lower our carbon footprint as we work towards our commitment to creating a world where packaging never becomes waste.”

The Crisp Challenge

Crisp packets pose a particular problem for snack brands because of the unique demands of the food. Not only does the packaging need to seal in the flavour and provide a barrier against contamination, it also needs to be impermeable to oxygen, water and grease. Offering all these properties while being 100% kerbside-recyclable is a tough ask, but a small British company claims to have cracked the crisp code.

The British Crisp Co. has launched a range of crisps packaged in a material that can be recycled through the standard recycling stream. Created in partnership with sustainable packaging manufacturer EvoPak, the inside of the wrapper is coated with a microscopic layer of aluminium and a layer of Hydropol, a water-soluble polymer resin developed by British company Aquapak Polymers. Crucially, the packs have been approved by OPRL, the On-Pack Recycling Labelling scheme whose green recycle logo certifies that the packets are recyclable in standard paper recycling mills.

According to Aquapak, the launch of the new crisps packets was a significant milestone for its Hydropol technology. “This is a huge opportunity for brands and producers who now have a viable, functional and recyclable alternative that enables full fibre recovery in a standard paper recycling process,” said Mark Lapping, Aquapak’s CEO.

Sign Of Things To Come

As well as provide a significant boost for its brand, what The British Crisp Co. has done is prove to the global snack brands that a fully recyclable food-safe crisp packet can be done – and at scale. For their part, PepsiCo plans to eliminate all fossil-based plastic in crisp and snack bags by 2030 using 100% recycled or renewable materials.

Crisps may not be the healthiest food you can munch down on, but at least you won’t be doing as much damage to the planet in the future.

The Paper Fact File

Paper is one of the most sustainable and recycled materials in the world!

Visit the Paper Fact File to discover the facts about paper’s sustainable attributes. Some might surprise you!