Crisp wrappers

Small steps…

  • Ask your favourite crisp manufacturer to commit to making recyclable, compostable or biodegradable packets ASAP.
  • Find your local crisp wrapper recycling point. If there isn’t one, set one up. Ask your local school or business, community centre or library to host it and start raising funds for a non-profit, charity or school of your choice.
  • Tell your friends about the recycling scheme (especially that brother who’s never without his Flame Grilled Steak McCoys).
  • Sign the petition to maintain pressure on Walkers.


As trivial as this issue may seem in the face of catastrophic droughts, floods and storms, it’s actually a great example of how the actions of individuals can collectively make a very real difference.

Together, we in the UK munch through six billion packets of crisps a year. Walkers is the market leader by a long way; they alone produce 11 million packets annually – more than 7,000 every minute.

Unfortunately that shiny, springy silver inside that keeps your crisps so fresh and crunchy isn’t foil, but a metallised plastic film, which is why the packets can’t be recycled. No surprise, then, that there are so many lining our roadsides and beaches, some dating from as far back as the 1980s. Not good news for the oceans, for our wildlife or, ultimately, for us.

Fed up with the waste, a campaign began encouraging people to post their empty wrappers back to Walkers using the company’s own Freepost address. This consumer pressure was hugely effective, forcing Walkers to promise that, by 2025, all their crisp wrappers will be either recyclable, compostable or biodegradable. And other top brands, including many of the major supermarkets, have now matched that pledge.

But that still means that, by 2025, there will be tens of billions more non-recyclable crisp packets either ending up landfill or floating round your local park.

Now, happily, there’s a solution – or at least a stop-gap. Until the various manufacturers make good on their promises, Walkers has teamed up with TerraCycle, a company determined to make it possible for us to recycle even the most difficult waste. Together, they’ll be turning our empty packets into plastic pellets that, in turn, will be ‘transformed into park benches, plant pots, watering cans and cool bags’. And, importantly, they’ll accept not just Walkers crisp packets, but ANY crisp packets.

Just go to the Walkers website to search for your local collection point. There are already thousands across the UK, but don’t worry if you can’t find one near you: a minimum of 400 empty packets gets you a free courier collection from your own doorstep. So you can either club together with friends and neighbours, or get started on your own collection – wrapped in a rubber band, they don’t take up much space.

And it’s worth repeating, you can take ANY BRAND of crisp wrapper (just not crisp tubes, meat snack bags, popcorn bags or pretzel bars).

My breath may still stink of pickled onion, cheese or salt’n’vinegar, but at least my conscience is that little bit fresher.

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