ALMOST half of Walkers crisp bags are empty – adding around 1,760 tonnes of packaging waste a year, according to an investigation by The Sun.
We tested Britain’s favourite crisp brands to see how much packaging is being wasted, despite fury over the difficulty in recycling them.
Walkers came out bottom in an investigation by The Sun where we found up to 44 per cent of the bags weren’t filled.
On average Walkers produces between seven and 11 million bags of crisps every day, or just over four billion in a year, meaning just under half of 4,000 tonnes of packaging is going to waste.
The Sun rested bags of Walkers, Quavers, Chipsticks, Monster Much, Doritos, Pom Bears, McCoys and Hula Hoops as part of our investigation.
Retro 90s snack Chipsticks came out on top, with just 23 per cent of the bag left empty.
We looked at four bags of crisps from each brand and worked out the average amount of empty packaging by measuring the length of the outside pack, how high the bag was filled and how much room was left.
Manufacturers claim the space left in crisp packets is needed to help keep them fresh.
Most bags of crisps, including all the ones we tested, are filled with nitrogen gas to fill packs which keeps the contents fresh and crunchy.
Experts warn that leaving space in bags is also confusing for shoppers who might be “tricked” into thinking they are getting more for their money.
Sue Hayward, consumer expert, told The Sun: “You pay for a bag of crisps not puffs of air and size matters when it comes to crisps.”
A spokesperson from 38 Degrees said: “They still have a long way to go. They are still producing millions of plastic packets every day.”
The majority of crisp bags in the UK are made from polypropylene with a small amount of polyethylene.
While individually the two materials can be recycled, most mixed plastics cannot.
Last year, Walkers came under fire as campaigners took to posting used packets back to the crisp producer in protest over the packaging not being recyclable.
It forced the firm to launch a free crisp packet recycling scheme where customers can return the environmentally unfriendly bags.
This scheme is also used by rival company KP Snacks, the owner of crisps such as Hula Hoops, Pom Bears and McCoys.
PepsiCo, parent company of Walkers, Quavers, Doritos, Chipsticks and Monster Munch, said a “blast of air” is also used as a cushion for the contents.
How you can recycle your crisp packets with TerraCycle
YOU can help the environment by signing up to the TerraCycle scheme and recycling your empty crisp packets.
TerraCycle cleans and shreds your rubbish before they are made into small plastic pellets.
These can then be used to make items such as outdoor furniture, trays, roofing and flooring.
Here’s how you can get involved:
There are currently 1,900 public drop-off points where you can deposit your empty crisp packets.
Simply click here to find your nearest collection – TerraCycle estimates there’s one within 4 miles of 80 per cent of UK households.
You currently don’t need to be a member to use the public drop-off zones.
If you do sign up to the scheme, you can set up your own drop-off spot somewhere that is easily accessible to members of the public.
But you’ll need to collect a minimum of 8kg of crisp packets every six months – around 1,600 packets.
Once your box is full, you then arrange free pick up via delivery company UPS by calling 03457 877 877 or booking online.
You’ll need to print off a free UPS label before sorting the delivery.
A PepsiCo spokesperson said: “This protects the crisps in the packet as they make the journey from our factories to retailers across the country, and eventually into people’s homes.
“We’re working hard to invent new types of plastic so our bags can go into household recycling bins.”
A spokeswoman for KP added said: “Depending on the way the product is distributed after it leaves us, the contents may settle or break and thus the pack would appear less full.”
Both companies plan to make all packaging used for their crisps 100 per cent recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025 as part of the UK Plastics Pact.
And they’ve been reducing the amount of packaging used in multipacks.
Sustainability group WRAP says it is working closely with PepsiCo and KP Snacks through their membership with the UK Plastics Pact to find new, innovative ways to sell multiple bags of crisps without additional packaging.
Claire Shrewsbury from sustainability at WRAP said: “The Quavers six pack is a good example of where Walkers have reduced the size of the multipack wrap.”
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