Crisp packets disposal and recycling

Crisps are often the staple of any lunchbox, snack, or party food. 6 billion packets of crisps are consumed every year in the UK alone – this is 16 million each day. So you can imagine how many crisp packets there are currently in the world.

Despite the technology being available to recycle these packets, until very recently it wasn’t considered cost-effective enough. This resulted in thousands posting their empty packets back to the manufacturers in protest.

Now, there are significantly more collection points available and recycling crisp packets is a lot easier!

crisps packet recycling

Are crisp packets recyclable?

Yes, technically crisp packets are recyclable. However, because they are made of plastic and metallised plastic film (the silvery inside layer), they are too difficult for home recycling collections to deal with. Because of this, most will reject crisp packets.

But before you simply throw away your crisp packet, you should know where it’ll end up. The plastic that goes into making crisp packets is so durable that the thousands that make their way to the sea can last for over 30 years. These damage natural habitats and harm wildlife.

What is the Terracycle Recycling Scheme?

So, instead of throwing your crisp packets into the general household waste bin, think about recycling them instead.

The Terracycle Recycling Scheme is the UK’s largest crisp packet recycling scheme brought to you by Walkers Crisps. They offer free and easy recycling of your used crisp packets and accept all brands.

They have over 1,600 public drop-off sites nationwide. There’s a site within 4 miles of 80% of households in the UK!

Whats the process for crisp packet recycling?

Simply find your nearest drop-off location on the website, collect your used crisp packets in a box at home, and drop them off at your closest site.

You can even set up your own public drop-off location if you want to make even more of a difference. You’ll need permission from whoever administers the site and you’ll need to choose somewhere accessible to the community. The minimum collection for drop-off points is 1,600 packets each 6 months.

What is accepted?

All crisp packets and even the multipack outer packaging is accepted in the scheme. However, do not fold the crisp packets into triangles. Just leave them loose and as they are.

Make sure the packets are all entirely empty and then drop them off.

What happens to the recycled crisp packets

Once your local drop-off point has enough crisp packets (usually anything above 8kg, or about 1,600 packets), they will be shipped to a TerraCycle Material Recovery Facility where they will be weighed and inspected for contamination.

Next, using a variety of technological techniques, the facility sorts the materials based on characteristics and composition. These techniques include manual sortation, separating by size, the sink or float test, gravity, magnets, optical sortation, and air density. These work in tandem to send material down the line for further processing.

Materials that are non-compliant or legally required to be used as waste-to-energy are incinerated and the power generated is used by the processing facility or the local utility network.

For all other materials, they are sorted by category and cleaned before being sent to third-party partners who will begin the process to turn your empty crisp packets into usable forms. They will be shredded or ground before melting and are finally reformatted into pellets, flakes, or a powder ready to be reused.

These crisp packets may go on to become any number of things in their recycling journey. Some end up as plastic shipping pallets, storage containers and bins, flooring tiles, watering cans for gardens, outdoor furniture and decking, athletic fields, and even playground surface covers. The possibilities are endless when you recycle your crisp packets.

How can you reduce crisp packet waste?

Of course, to limit your waste at all, you should start by reducing how many crisps you buy. Turn to healthier alternatives that come in either recyclable or no packaging at all. Loose fruit and veg are a great idea.

You could even try making your own homemade crisps to avoid packaging that way!

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