Reducing crisp packet landfill via county-wide community drop-offs

Tangmere Dental
Tangmere Dental

A scheme which aims to make a dent in the waste produced by the estimated 11 million packets of crisps we consume every day in the UK is beginning to make its mark in West Sussex.

Three months after its launch by TV star Gary Lineker and environment secretary Michael Gove, over 8,500 collectors have signed up to the Walkers crisp packet recycling scheme - at least 20 of whom are in our county.

In this period, over half a million crisp packets have been collected by TerraCycle, a global leader in recycling hard-to-recycle materials.

These are enough to produce 250 benches made from recycled plastic.

Encouraged by this start, Walkers marked Global Recycling Day on March 18 by inviting more of us to start collecting and dropping off used crisp packets at collection points, to ensure a greater number of crisp packets get recycled.

The scheme’s biggest contributer so far is in North Lancing. Recycler Sue Wellfare has sent in almost 50,000 packets in just three months and, in addition to setting up a website, Facebook page and monthly newsletter packed with tips, is encouraging businesses and community centres to set up collection points.

A Walkers spokesperson said: “Her contribution alone could produce 25 benches made from recycled plastic.”

TerraCycle head of communications Stephen Clarke said: “The public reaction has been fantastic. Since its launch, the Walkers programme has collected more than 700,000 crisp packets. We want as many people to recycle their crisp packets as possible and really engage with communities to collect together via the network of public access drop-off locations.”

Getting involved is easy: “Collect empty crisp packets and take them to your nearest recycling drop-off point. Or, if there isn’t a drop-off point nearby, download a label from the TerraCycle website and arrange to have the packets collected from your home, by courier, free of charge.”

Stephen recommended collecting as many packs as possible in one go, sending them off in larger batches.

The packets are sent to TerraCycle, which cleans and shreds them, ready to be made into small plastic pellets which are used to make everyday items such as outdoor furniture, trays and even roofing and flooring.

See www.walkers.co.uk/recycle for drop-off points and www.terracycle.co.uk for details of this and other free recycling initiatives.

‘It’s really easy to sign up’

Since the launch of the Walkers crisp packet recycling scheme last December, volunteer collectors range from councils to schools, pubs and private individuals.

Suzanne Liano, a dental therapist at Tangmere Dental Care, said the practice joined the initiative as part of its bid to reduce plastic waste going into landfill.

Suzanne said: “As well as doing the best we can within the limitations of strict dental legislation, we felt this was another way we could help the environment. It started off with oral health care waste recycling, initiated with Colgate with TerraCycle, and then I asked myself what else we could recycle.

“The scheme gives us points for our nominated charity, Brent Lodge Bird & Wildlife Trust.

“It’s going really well and the box fills up quickly.”

Setting up is easy: “Just do it! It’s also a great way of getting money for your local charity and raising awareness in the commmunity.”

Laura Parry is a manager at the Unicorn Inn, Heyshott, which bags up at least 10 crisp packets daily.

Laura said: “We’re on the map and we’ll take crisp packets in if anyone brings them in. It’s easy enough to do - you’ve just got to find a way to store them rather than chuck them in the bin. If TerraCycle are happy to recycle and reuse them, every little helps.”

Dean Brown-Fuller, general manager of The Seal, Selsey, became involved because there was nowhere local available.

Dean said: “We probably get through at least 200 packets a week and it’s good to see them recycled.”

He hopes to set up a drop-off point outside to make it easier for the public to use: “As we’re on the map, we’ve had locals drop off big bags of crisp packets. We’re also expanding to other areas of recycling, starting with cigarette butts, stationery and pens, and are trying to branch out as far as we can. It’s good to see it not get into landfill.

“It’s really easy to sign up - anyone can do it from their own household. You just have to fill out a form. It only costs a little bit of your time.”

Arun District Council is participating in the scheme in Bognor Regis and the Civic Centre, Littlehampton, for the benefit of both staff and the public, while Chichester District Council is currently investigating the TerraCycle scheme for both employees and district residents.