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Royal Mail begs environmental protesters to stop posting empty crisp packets to Walkers

Walkers wrappers returned as part of protest against the snack company's use of plastic packaging 

Toyin Owoseje
Wednesday 26 September 2018 16:22 BST

Royal Mail has urged people to stop posting empty packets of Walkers crisps back to the manufacturer.

Customers started shipping off their loose non-recyclable plastic crisp packets as part of the #PacketInWalkers social media campaign launched by Geraint Ashcroft.

The retired assembly line engineer and long-time crisp lover has called on the manufacturer to ditch its single use plastic packaging and invest in environmentally friendly packaging. He said he felt compelled to take action after he learned that the packets were not recyclable.

"People don't want this stuff going into landfill and they keep talking about making them compostable, but nothing is happening,” he told Leicestershire Live . "As a nation, the UK alone consumes approximately six billion packets a year. That's an awful lot of landfill and poison for the environment."

To make the point, people were encouraged to send non-recyclable bags back to manufacturer Walkers and put pictures of themselves "popping them in the post" on social media.

Royal Mail is obliged by law to deliver the bags to Walkers' freepost address, but the firm has urged customers not to post anything that is not correctly packaged, warning that such items could be delayed or taken out of the system.

If the packets are not placed in envelopes they cannot go through machines and must be sorted by hand.

"We strongly encourage customers not to post anything into the postal system which is not properly packaged,” a Royal Mail spokesperson said. "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."

Mr Ashcroft's online campaign backed a petition by campaign group 38 Degrees, which has garnered more than 310,000 signatures, in support of #PacketInWalkers.

38 Degrees campaigner Cathy Warren said that it would be advising participants to use envelopes to return the packages after seeing Royal Mail's plea.

"Up and down the country, people are telling Walkers to step up when it comes to plastic waste," she said. "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."

Walkers, which is a subsidiary of PepsiCo, has vowed to scrap its plastic packaging by 2025 and previously said that it had a “number of initiatives in place to reduce the amount of packaging we use and at the same time.”

Reacting to the campaign, the firm said it recognised efforts to bring the issue of plastic waste to its attention and would be using the returned packets as part of it's ongoing research.

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