In September, Greenpeace volunteers and shoppers have been handing items of single-use plastic packaging back at tills in over 60 supermarkets across the UK, with notes to store managers calling for action to reduce excessive throwaway packaging.
UK supermarkets generate more than 800,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste every year. Shoppers were encouraged to remove unnecessary plastic packaging from items they had purchased and leave it at the checkout, handing responsibility for its disposal back to the company selling it.
Greenpeace UK’s most successful environmental petition is asking supermarkets to reduce the volume of throwaway plastic packaging they produce. It has been signed by over 700,000 people across the UK.
Campaign group 38 degrees has been campaigning to get walkers crisps to act faster to ditch its non-recyclable, plastic crisp packets. The inside of a crisp packet may look like metal foil but is in fact metallised plastic film. The packets are not recyclable – beach-cleaning volunteers in Cornwall have retrieved old Walkers packets believed to date from the 1980s and 1990s.
They have been encouraging consumers to post their crisp packets back to the company. The response was huge, and Walkers have announced a recycling scheme where people can post back the crisp packet in envelopes to recycling firm TerraCycle. 38 degrees is 'delighted' to hear about the move:
"It's proof that public pressure can shift big companies to do more to prevent waste. "The public will be watching to make sure that the new recycling scheme isn't just a PR stunt," said executive director David Babbs.
However, campaigners have questioned whether it is just a short term solution. Walkers have promised to go plastic free by 2025, but by then they’ll have produced 28 billion more plastic packets that will litter our beaches, our streets, and pile up in landfills.
Other crisp brands, including KP Snacks (which owns McCoy’s, Tyrrell’s and Hula Hoops), Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Aldi, Lidl, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer, have all matched Walkers’ pledge to make their crisp packets 100% recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025 – in seven years time. But, as the leading brand, Walkers alone make 11m crisp packets a day so going plastic-free would have a big impact.
Sign the petition to encourage Walkers to ditch plastic packaging sooner.