Royal Mail has stepped into a row between campaigners and crisp makers Walkers – by urging people posting empty packets to put them in envelopes.
Campaigners asked people to post the non-recyclable plastic bags and “flood Walkers social media with pictures of us popping them in the post”.
Royal Mail is obliged by law to deliver the bags to Walkers’ freepost address.
But without envelopes they cannot go through machines and must be sorted by hand, causing delays.
A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “We strongly encourage customers not to post anything into the postal system which is not properly packaged.
“Crisp packets can’t go through the machines, they are not normal mail items therefore my hardworking colleagues need to manually sort them, which adds to time.”
— MarvinE (@MarvinE0) September 23, 2018
People have been taking selfies of themselves posting the crisp packets and putting them on social media with the hashtag #PacketInWalkers.
It follows a petition hosted by 38 Degrees which called for Walkers to make their packets recyclable .
Cathy Warren, campaigner at 38 Degrees, said: “Royal Mail have asked people to use envelopes when posting crisp packets and we will update the thousands of Walkers’s customers who are taking part.
“Up and down the country, people are telling Walkers to step up when it comes to plastic waste.
“Walkers produce a staggering 7,000 plastic crisp packets a minute which they don’t pay a penny to clean up. They need to listen to their customers and take action now.”
Royal Mail said it had handled about 30 crisp packets so far.
Are the alternatives any better?
Susan Selke, director of the School of Packaging at Michigan State University, said crisps needed a very good oxygen barrier because of their high fat content and other packaging alternatives may have greater overall environmental impacts.
“From looking at the Walkers website, it appears that their packaging is similar to that used for the majority of snack foods,” she said.
Such products are commonly packaged in metallised PET or metallised PP, which are both metallised films.
“Because of their fat content and the potential for rancidity, chips [crisps] need a good oxygen barrier,” said Dr Selke.
“The old alternative was paper or plastic laminated to aluminium foil, usually coated on the inside with a plastic layer for heat-sealing. This structure would also not be accepted for recycling in most cases, is much heavier, and will have greater overall environmental impacts, for a variety of reasons, so it would not be an improvement.”
She said more rigid packaging could be used to provide a good oxygen barrier but this would result in more material being used.
“Several studies have shown that most of the environmental impact comes at the production end, not the disposal end, so again overall environmental impact would likely be increased with these alternatives, even if recycling went up,” said Dr Selke.
Walkers said its packaging had been designed to keep its snacks fresh and prevent food waste.
The Leicester-based crisp manufacturer confirmed it had started receiving crisp packets and claimed it would use them “for research”.
“We recognise the efforts being made to bring the issue of packaging waste to our attention,” a spokesperson added.
“The returned packets will be used in our research, as we work towards our commitment of improving the recyclability of our packaging.”
It has pledged to make all its packaging 100% recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025.
It is piloting compostable packaging in the US, India and Chile.
Related Internet Links
- Market report: Royal Mail left glum about new data laws
- Mail's Great Plastic Pick Up hailed a triumph after effort by 12,000
- Opening date revealed for One Stop shop in Westcliff
- 98 Years of Mail Fraud
- Hayne royal Commission and the banking crisis: insiders reveal when the rot set in
- Royal wedding live updates: Meghan Markle arrives at Cliveden House hotel with mother Doria on eve of big day
- Rockland native on the 'Royal Wedding' guest list
- Meghan Markle and Prince Harry: Can the Royal Wedding Change Centuries of Racism and Classism in Britain?
- Swadlincote Snow Samaritan nominated for a Burton Mail Heroes award
- Meghan Markle Is Related to Jack the Ripper and Other Trash From the Royal News Cycle
- Meghan Markle's father not attending royal wedding after heart attack, staged paparazzi photos, says report
- The Royal Wedding Playlist Is Gonna Be Wild
- Meghan Markle's father caught up in photo flap; will he stay home from royal wedding?
- Prince Harry: From wild child to respectable royal
- Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's royal wedding: What we know and what we don't know
- Royal wedding drama: Meghan Markle's not alone when it comes to prenuptial stress, chaos
- National newspaper ABCs: Daily Telegraph decision to stop selling bulks sees circulation fall by nearly a fifth year-on-year
- Royal wedding final countdown
- The royal wedding dress: Haute couture with a Hollywood edge
- Snaresbrook resident fuming after paying postal fees to collect Conservative campaign literature
Royal Mail: Stop posting crisp packets without envelopes have 942 words, post on www.bbc.co.uk at September 26, 2018. This is cached page on Europe Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.