Campaigners are sharing photos of themselves posting empty crisp packets back to Walkers as part of a campaign aimed at raising awareness of the fact they are not currently recyclable.
The campaigners, from petition site 38 Degrees, are encouraging Walkers customers to do the same with the hashtag #PacketInWalkers.
It’s all part of a petition started last year by 61-year-old retired teacher Geraint Ashcroft, from Pontypridd, which called on Walkers and all crisp manufacturers to create a recyclable or ideally non-plastic and compostable alternative to its current packets.
Ashcroft told HuffPost UK he launched the petition when he was shocked to discover from his council that the crisp packets he had been chucking in the recycling could not in fact be recycled.
The petition has been signed by 310,455 people and resulted in Geraint being granted a meeting with Walkers’ parent company PepsiCo to discuss the challenges involved in creating an environmentally friendly alternative. The company, which currently makes around 11 million packets of crisps in the UK each day, has committed to making the packets recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025.
But Ashcroft told HuffPost UK he has launched round two of the campaign with the hashtag #PacketInWalkers to keep pressure up in the hope an earlier solution will be found.
“If people physically do it [post the packets back] then it does two things,” he said. “Number one, it’ll raise awareness of the fact they can’t be recycled and number two it puts the onus back on Walkers. I would love to see 11 million packets every day go back to Walkers and say: right then, it’s your packaging, you caused the problem – sort it. I wonder then how long it would take them to do it.”
A spokesperson for PepsiCo, Walkers’ parent company, told HuffPost UK that protecting the planet was “hugely important” to the company and that it shared the concerns of the petition creators and was working towards a solution as soon as possible.
The spokesperson added that it is currently exploring the use of paper and plant-based materials and “collaborating with a number of leaders in this area to learn and share the latest science and practical solutions.” The company is piloting alternative packaging in other countries including the US, India, and Chile.
The petition site 38 Degrees said that Walkers is just one of many crisp manufacturers contributing to the problem and that it hoped by taking action it would force others to follow suit.
Cathy Warren, 38 Degrees campaigner, said: “There’s huge public concern about the amount of plastic being produced, and that means it’s crunch time for Walkers to decide if they will listen to their customers.”