Important annoucement about recycling crisp packets

Filed in Blog, Waste News by on February 10, 2011 8 Comments
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Local people will have noticed a lack of crisp packet recycling in Tesco recently.

Before Christmas Tesco appointed a new store manager who decided the crisp packet recycling container was not ‘professional enough’ so it was removed.

Unfortunately, we weren’t told about it and the first we knew was when we had several enquiries as to where it had gone!

After waiting several weeks to speak to the right person I can now confirm that the receptacle has been removed for several reasons, which I won’t go into here.

I’ve looked into getting a ‘proper’ (ie sturdy plastic) container and could probably get sponsorship for this, however, there is a new problem with crisp packet collections on the horizon:

The Philippine Community fund were sending two shipping containers to the Philippines a year filled with desks, books and other supplies for their new school. The empty crisp packets were used as both packing material and, when they arrived in the Philippines, were sanitised and utilised as raw materials for the lovely bags, pencil cases and purses we have shown you on other posts. The profits from these products were helping support some of the poorest Filipino families.

The school project is now complete and the PCF no longer need two shipping containers per year, which begs the question, “What do we do with the empty crisp packets?”

Unfortunately I do not yet have the full story, but I’ve decided to post up what I DO know because I’m getting hundreds of emails every month asking the same question…

All I can tell you at this point is the crisp packet recycling collections at Tesco have ceased and you have until April 18th to send your crisp packets direct to the Philippine Community Fund at the address below:

The Philippine Community Fund,
PO Box 294
Hedge End
SO30 2YD

After April 18th I don’t yet know what will be happening for those of you who are collecting crisp packets and sending them in.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have supported the charity. It’s been wonderful to see so much interest and I’m very sad that it’s come to an end. We ran the scheme for a year and in that time collected over 100kg of crisp packets.

After making these crisp packets into products, the profits kept over 60 children out of poverty for a year and enabled them to get an education through the Philippine Community Fund.

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (8)

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  1. Karin says:

    That’s quite an achievement. Well done.

  2. pamela says:

    I had no idea about this project – and what a marvellous acheivement:) – and had just this week been looking about at what could be done with crisp packets since my partner is fond of his daily snack. One of the most notable enduring waste on the lakeland fells appears to be crisp packets, and I’ve come across some which I recognise as packaging from the 1970’s, durable they certainly are! Thanks for your research and the ‘heads-up’;)

  3. Julie Day says:

    I am pleased the project has finished but sorry to hear that they won’t need more wrappers. I have been so keen on sending them to the PCF. Will keep an eye out what to do next.

  4. CarSue says:

    Mrs. Green,

    I’m not sure of you’re familiar with Terracycle or not, but they create loads of products from purses to schhol supplies, even fencing, from hard-to-recycle materials. They even pay a small bit for each item your group collects. I checked, and they are indeed in the UK as well. It might be a viable program, if you had some other interested parties who would like to help out. Go to, and there is a “brigades” page to show what all you can collect to send them.

    Hope this helps a bit. Sorry to hear your recycling outlet has ended, but it’s good to hear that the needs of the children were able to be met. Hopefully this can become a new outlet for you.

  5. Joanne says:


    Does the April 18th deadline apply to things other than crisp packets? I have some empty toothpaste tubes to send to PCF too (I was waiting until I had several to post together.)

  6. Jane B says:

    Zero-Waste World I salute you – for the ideas and insight, the determination, enthusiasm and solidarity. And so, sorry to be the one to say it but however much this little story warms our waste-not hearts and salves our highly salvageable consciences, this was never really the solution it seemed …certainly not a sufficiently complete, principled and long-term one (so says the person working in international development – women and trade!)

    OK, so it made the waste disappear, and shifted the focus and responsibility for while, which made it a hell of a lot easier for many of us to carry on as we are – taking the crisp but avoiding ‘the crunch‘, ‘comfort eating’ as we’ve long been doing and obviously long to do for as long as we can. But the problem surely remains. And it remains OUR problem. Too many people, despite the good intentions but even better advertising, are still buying into and buying up all that bright and shiny single-use, single-portion packaging, and therefore accepting if not encouraging the extravagant use of finite resources on all our behalves. But aren’t we the ones who are meant to be saying that we really don’t want or accept our precious and non-renewable oil, metal, mineral supplies being used in this way. We don’t want people risking their lives down mines and on rigs, as well as endangering the surrounding natural environment, so that for five minutes of OUR lives we can… slurp on a cola, or ‘processed’ water, or snack on a slice of fried potato. Bare with me on this! …I still want to be a friend and respect each and every one of you self-declared Zero-heroes. As hey, there are some people out there who still require/expect trees to be cut down so that they can go to their bathrooms and wipe their unreformed behinds in the manner of their choosing – with paper that’s virginal and oh-so-white, with chlorine. None of us would be doing that now would we! But let‘s not kid ourselves. Rather too many recycling initiatives and associated charitable endeavours become the place that we can take our misguided indulgences, misjudgements, and resulting guilt to, like the therapist or confessional, that in fact allows us to keep transgressing! And even when we believe we are doing good, wanting to do it, we are not really looking to change or to be challenged by doing something differently, or, god forbid, doing without.

    And so, when it comes to convenience foods and it’s inconvenient packaging we’ve been exporting the idea and the resulting problem for a generation. Of course ‘the argument’ is more complex and nuanced than my next sentence would suggest. But Asia – aspiring en masse to the Western lifestyle portrayed in ‘all the best movies, magazines and marketing‘ – is littered with crisp packets of it’s own. They really don’t need or, on a ‘macro-level’, want ours. Packets aplenty would certainly be there for the taking at any municipal rubbish dump as well as the many less formal rubbish mountains that are changing and undeniably blighting the Asian landscape just as they do our own. And so yes, if they were going to receive a ‘charitable donation’ in kind from the West many of these poor communities might prefer the packaging to be textiles. How poignantly ‘closed loop’ would that be. The return of a community’s own workmanship, or at least that of their fellow Global South poor, that has been sold to us so cheaply but that is not so available and affordable ‘at source‘. An aspect of our waste that to these communities remains readily usable/reusable, without the need to work with highly toxic ‘reprocessing’ chemicals or ‘under the cloud’ of the noxious fumes generated as part of that process. But all too often, rather than find out and then contribute what is most appropriate, useful and preferred – at a local, regional or national level – we give what we want to give, invariably that which costs us the least in terms of time and effort but still affords us the maximum ‘feel good’ return. This is when it becomes dumping not donating.

    So please, don’t be sad that your crisp packets are going nowhere. If they trouble you and your conscience that much why not try doing away with them all together. I all too often choose to work very long, 14-18 hour days and yet can testify to just how liberating (and socialable!) it is to live without tins, tetrapaks and anything tin-foiled or cling-filmed. And any of the friends would be more than happy to tell you that I don’t even know how to cook!

    Meanwhile, on the other side of the world there are still plenty of people who do know how to cook, and how to feed themselves and their families. (I know , too!) So let’s do our bit to keep it that way and not attach any glamour or virtue to something as seemingly innocuous but actually highly culturally and environmentally damaging as crisp packets. It’s so much more than a mere ‘waste management’ issue that too many of the people who I’ve worked with – from the highest Himalayas to the smallest islands of Indonesia – have felt compelled to turn their backs on the produce grown/made locally in their village small-holdings (delivered to the dining table without any packaging) to become the first/second generation to be ‘economically active’ and living in urban slums, where in wanting to follow the Western road to riches and it’s example of ’ready-to-eat, and ready for everything’ they’re trying to work themselves ‘up to’ the lifestyle standards we have set, and so for now, and most likely a long time yet, they’ll will be working slavishly hard to earn the dollar a day that will be buy them the packet of crisps, and fizzy drinks in cans and plastic bottles, that has often been driven hundreds of miles from centralised industrial production facilities controlled by Western interests. And you thought it was just a crisp packet! I think of it as a curse.

    Yes, I generalise, for which I apologise. But I would want to suggest to all Zero Heroes that for us, as well as for all those people we’d like to be helping elsewhere in the world, ‘convenience’ all too often means not having the skill, knowledge, inclination or independence of mind to do something well, and for ourselves (which means bagged, pre-cut lettuce should also be off the menu too – just grab a knife and a whole vegetable, see what happens and see how good it feels!). We can do it people. There’s so much talk about turning off the lights when leaving the room but the real ’light bulb moment’ comes when we realise just how many times we really don’t need to be turning on the lights when we enter the room in the first place. Go on… why not at least try it on Valentines Day! – very localised ‘lamp light’ defines the area in which you choose to be, brings it in close, focusses the mind and minimises the distractions, and heightens other senses that we need to more than survive. I promise! And please, don’t just sit there eating crisps! Cut up a potato and eat it raw, for the fun or for the hell of it. Or carrots if it’s that kind of a night! Crudites, unlike crisps, are made for sharing, and can be bought to the table naked and guilt-free!

  7. John Costigane says:

    @Jane B: Glad you appreciate the efforts of Zero Waste enthusiasts. Jane. Undoubtedly, the end of crisp pack recycling is a setback of a kind. The plastic industry has not given up the fight to retain its role which means that they are pushing into new areas. We all know of packages which have suddenly sprouted new plastic additions: the most unusual being a plastic plate on the outside of a card box, for medicines. I plan to send these plates back to the source ie RTS.

    Another way of looking at Mrs Green’s initiatives, Tesco boxes for used crisp bags the latest, is to challenge all areas of waste outcomes. There has been much progress from 3 years ago and MyZeroWaste has been at the forefront, supported by many other enthusiasts.

    Compromise is essential and we should back the best companies, like Tetra Pak, as a sign to other businesses. Competitive advantage is a factor in business and what could be better than consumer backing. If companies aim for Zero Waste, we will support their efforts. Just look at Easter Eggs, Plastic has been chased out from its previous universal use. Nestle has been best of all, with Rollo and Smarties eggs having card, paper and tinfoil only. Tinfoil recycling is poor at present so some patience is required in the meantime. I simply collect balls of the foil and await a recycling opportunity.

    Reusable packaging has value but cannot cover all situations at present (liquids are a particular difficulty). It is not realistic to stop using current packages because no-one has offered a suitable alternative. Might I suggest that you provide such a choice before asking people to stop using the current options. If you did, I am sure Mrs Green would be happy to promote it.

  8. Mrs Green says:

    @Joanne: Hi Joanne, at this point it covers all materials; so please send in your toothpaste tubes by April 18th too 🙂

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