Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Celebrating Earth Day

Regular readers will know how I love crisps, especially Walkers Quavers, but will also know that the packaging can't be recycled or composted easily. So in honour of Earth Day, I'm giving them up for a whole week, while I share some great news about the future of crisp packaging, or chip packaging, as they say in the US.

The following video reveals what FritoLay, an American crisp company, has promised for next year's Earth Day for their Sunchips brand. Interestingly, FritoLay has some connection with the UK Walkers company through the Pepsi empire.

I can't help wondering whether I will soon be able to eat Quavers and still keep my rubbish nice and slim. If so, my only worry will be my own diet rather than that of my bin. Now that's reminded me, my other Earth Day promise is to get on my bike....that'll certainly help!



bin diver kate said...

That's exciting news! I presume if they're fuly biodegrable they wont have a foil lining which will also hike up their environmental credentials! I love seeing exciting developments like this! Thanks! Kate xx

Despairing said...

Of course you could put your Quavers bags into the oven, the old schoolboy trick of producing tiny little crisp bags that won't take up much room in your bin!

Condo Blues said...

Oh how I love Walkers crisps. Good thing for my tiny trash bin that I have to go above and beyond to buy them here in the US. I only mange to buy one small snack size bag a year if that.

John Costigane said...

Hi Mrs A,

Home compostable packaging is Zero Waste and this crisp pack could be the basis for sustainable change. Hopefully, others will join the chase for this type of packet to shorten the timescale.

I look forward to eating the food, previously unavailable.

Maisie said...

Hopefully this will become the norm here in UK as well.

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Strawberry Jam Anne said...

All good news Mrs A and let's hope that many other companies take note. A x

Karin said...

This is indeed good news, so long as the bags are not made from plants or land that would otherwise feed people, and the the land they grow on was not recently forest cut down to grow them.

It is important to see the bigger picture. What looks like good news for the environment if we see just a snapshot, can tell another story when we see the whole picture.


Hi Kate - it is interesting to see the changes that companies are making isn't it. I still remember the pre-foil days...and I also remember those were the days when crisps could go soggy. Hope you're keeping well :-D x

Hi Despairing. I could then use them to make jewellery or keyrings. I might give that a try when I'm cooking the next roast dinner :-)

Hi Condo Blues. I think that's you and me both, but I have to work hard at avoiding the crisp aisle in the shops :-D

Hi John - whatever you do don't start counting the days. It might make it feel longer :-D

Hi Maisie - hopefully soon. I had read a while ago that Walkers were moving in this direction according to their sustainable plans. I would have expected the UK market to have been tested earlier, simply for reasons of size of market compared to that of the US. Maybe they've got something under wraps :-D

Thanks Diet Diva - do come again. :-D

Hi Anne - fingers crossed. Gradual changes are happening all the time. :-D x

Hi Karin - that's so true and companies who go down the biodegradable route should be transparent about their sources. Some packaging can be made from waste products from food production. It would be great if that's the case here. Here's a thought, wouldn't be great if you could make packaging from the waste process of making crisps. Now that would be something indeed :-D

Layla said...

If it's fully biodegradable (& a chip-byproduct;), then good news indeed!

I hope they do good studies on biodegradability...
& also it depends what happens to the package - is it put on home compost, can it biodegrade in urban/municipal facilities too?
(hopefully they won't just get tossed or burnt?)

I miss the chips a bit too - wonder if I can make my own? hmm..?!

Fake Plastic Fish said...

I have mixed feelings about the new packaging. On the one hand, compostable is vastly better than the packaging they are using now. On the other hand, I still think we need to consider our consumption of disposables in the first place. It will takes materials and energy to create single-use packaging, whether biodegradable or not. It's fine if the chips are an occasional treat. But I feel like our insistence on prepackaged convenience foods is still a burden on the earth. What do you think?


Hi Layla - now there's the issue surrounding packaging for stuff like this. Any improvements in crisp packaging MUST be accompanied by consumer education. Those who are interested in reducing waste will follow the instructions and compost accordingly either through home or municipal facilities.

But for those who have no interest, will they carry on bunging them in the rubbish bin. Of course that wouldn't matter if they decompose safely in landfill, but if incineration takes over from landfill and this packaging just goes up in smoke, will it be worth the change?

This just shows what a complex world we're in at the moment and how much work is still needed regarding materials management and behavioural change.


I know what you mean Beth and since embarking on The Rubbish Diet, my own consumption of snack products has been remarkably reduced.

I've been mulling over this very subject when considering delicate products that have cumbersome protective packaging that exceeds the edible contents and whether it's time for companies to wise up and take responsibility for justifying such products within their range, especially if the packaging is not recyclable.

However manufacturing of crisps\chips with its dependency on single use packaging would be a tough nut to crack, given the mainstream dependency on regular consumption right across the western world and probably developing countries too. As far as I'm aware, these are products that aren't easily distributed in bulk.

With obesity levels rising, progress in reducing society's taste for convenience snacks could be achieved through health campaigns that are run alongside waste awareness campaigns, which may bring the positive results needed.

I think we'll find that such products are in the hands of the future and will depend on a mix of influences including national economies, sustainable renewable sources and consumers' appetites for prioritising their hard-earned cash towards healthy and filling foods. It's at times like this I wish I had a crystal ball. :-)

Layla said...

Beth, I think we need to reduce disposables too..
& that's what I'm doing personally.. at least trying too :)
with the zero waste week & everything.. :)

For the people who are terrible 'consumers' (& just buy & toss) this may be 'better than nothing', or better than what's available already...

On the other hand, so many things were said to be 'okay' for health at first (like iffy artificial additives in food etc) - & decades later, lo & behold, it's known they are causing cancer or diabetes or rheumatism & worse!

So I fear these 'biodegradable' things may be 'safe' like this too.. & that only in a few decades their true 'cost' will be revealed..(?)


Hey Layla - I have news. I'm getting ready to attempt making my own crisps - baked in the oven. Wish me luck :-D x

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