How to Recycle Crisp Packets And Save the World

Well, maybe you won’t save the world but if you recycle your crisp packets you’ll do the world more good than chucking them in the bin.

But do supermarkets agree?

A Step in the Right Direction

As an avid recycler and an avid crisp eater, it was great news to hear that Walkers crisps had partnered with Terracycle to provide a way of recycling crisp packets.

Crisp packets are difficult to recycle because the inside of the packet is coated with a metallised plastic film. These packets do not biodegrade and are contributing to the huge problem of plastic in our oceans.

Walkers decided to partner with Terracycle following a campaign by protestors who started posting empty crisp packets back to the company. In addition to this a petition, run by campaign group 38 Degrees, was signed by 300,000 people.

Finally, Walkers acknowledged that they had to do something to deal with this issue.

Person collecting plastic waste from beach
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on

At Last

Walkers are aiming to make their crisp packets 100% recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025 and, as they produce 11 million packets a day, this can’t come a moment too soon. Other crisp manufacturers are also aiming to make their packaging environmentally friendly.

However, if you thought you’d just be able to chuck your crisp packet in with your household kerbside recycling collection, then think again. Recycling with Terracycle takes slightly more effort than that.

Terracycle have different schemes for different types of household waste and each scheme has their own set of rules.

How to recycle your crisp packets

Log onto Terracyle and check if there is a local collection drop off point in your area. If there is, you can save your crisp packets and regularly hand them in at the collection point. You can also recycle the outer packet wrapper from multi-packs. Please note your must NOT fold the packets into triangles. (You can recycle ALL crisp packets – not just Walkers.)

What if There is No Local Collection Point?

You are encouraged to join Terracycle by setting up an account and creating your own public collection point. This is all well and good and may be possible if you work in a school or a community group and they will let you name their premises as a collection point. Alternatively, you can set up your home address as a collection point but then your address will be published on the website with ‘opening times’ when you will be open for people to knock on your door and drop off their crisp packets. This may not be a very attractive or practical proposition for lots of people.

I asked the Supermarkets

There is currently no local drop off point in my town so I thought I would approach two big supermarket chains in my area to ask if they would set up a Terracycle collection point in their stores.

I considered that their stores would be an ideal location for purchasers and consumers of crisps to recycle the packets … and I was also interested to find out their attitude to recycling in general.

This is the response I received:

Sainsbury’s Reply

Thanks very much for your email, I have forwarded your query to our comms team who have come back to me and said;

Terracycle recycling points isn’t something we currently offer in stores, we have logged your feedback with the relevant team and will be taken into consideration at the next regular review.

Our stores have facilities to recycle carrier bags and some have other recycling facilities outside which can vary by store.

Email received from Sainsburys Customer Service 19/02/2019

As I’m sure you will agree this is not really a very encouraging response!

Tesco’s Reply

Thank you very much for getting in touch with us.

The Terracycle Collection Scheme is a fantastic idea, I have just looked at their website and it is great way to reduce plastic waste.  We do have recycling channels in a lot of our stores already, however this I feel would make a great supplement to what we already do at the moment as crisps are readily used most of the time and customers tend to put them in general waste when facilities like this are not available. I have forwarded this on to our marketing team, hopefully this will be something that we can take part in the future.

Thank you very much for letting me know about this and please if you have any other suggestions, please do not hesitate to get in touch

Email received from Tesco Customer Services 19/02/2019

This is a much more positive reply even though there is no definite decision, timescale or offer to keep me informed of their progress.

What You Can Do

Log onto Terracycle to see where your local collection points are, or join one of their schemes.

Lobby supermarkets to get involved and do their part in recycling the packaging of the products that they sell and profit from.

See what response I got when I asked my local council.

Check out Can you Buy Crisps in Biodegradable Packets?

Thanks for reading my blog!

© Michelle Le Grand
Out of the Office
Le Grand Art Blog
My Zazzle Store


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