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Kettle Chips maker backs Walkers in bid to cut plastic waste

Gary Lineker pictured as Walkers Crisps launched its packaging recyling scheme. Picture by Andrew Parsons / Parsons Media

Gary Lineker pictured as Walkers Crisps launched its packaging recyling scheme. Picture by Andrew Parsons / Parsons Media

©2018 Andrew Parsons / Parsons Media

Norfolk's biggest crisp manufacturer is exploring how it can cut its plastic waste, after rival Walkers bowed to public pressure by bringing forward recycling plans.

Up to 300 tonnes of potatoes a day are processed at Kettle Foods' Bowthorpe factory. Picture: Denise Bradley.Up to 300 tonnes of potatoes a day are processed at Kettle Foods' Bowthorpe factory. Picture: Denise Bradley.

Kettle Foods, which processes up to 300 tonnes of potatoes a day at its Bowthorpe factory, said it had been looking into more environmentally-friendly packaging alternatives, but had already reduced the plastic used in certain lines by nearly 40%.

It follows news that Walkers Crisps would introduce a free recycling scheme, which it called a nationwide first, to recycle the packets of any brand, following a campaign which involved people sending back their empty crisp bags and posting on social media with the hashtag #PacketInWalkers.

The Leicester-based manufacturer, which is represented by former footballer Gary Lineker, had previously said it would not be able to introduce the measures until 2025.

A spokesman for Kettle Foods said: “Like Walkers, we’re working hard to make our packaging more sustainable, and have been looking into various options including recyclable and compostable packaging with a wide range of suppliers.

The production line at the Kettle Foods factory. Picture: ANTONY KELLYThe production line at the Kettle Foods factory. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

“So far, we have not found the right solution for the UK facilities currently in place, but we are continuing to explore every avenue. In the meantime, it’s great to hear that other crisp brands will be accepted at the collection points in the TerraCycle scheme that Walkers announced.

“Over time we have significantly reduced the amount of packaging used for Kettle Chips without changing the contents – our sharing bags use 37.5% less plastic than they did in 2000 – and are looking at ways to reduce this even further.

“We fully support a move from single-use plastic and have good faith that retailers, manufacturers, the government and the waste management industry working together can find an appropriate solution.”

Under the Walkers scheme, snackers can send their bags to recycling firm TerraCycle, which will shred them into plastic pellets to be used in everyday items such as outdoor furniture and trays.

Kettle Foods says it is looking for more sustainable alternatives to its plastic packaging, but pointed out customers would be able to use Walkers' new recycling service. Picture: ANTONY KELLYKettle Foods says it is looking for more sustainable alternatives to its plastic packaging, but pointed out customers would be able to use Walkers' new recycling service. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Kettle Foods has around 400 staff at its Bowthorpe factory, and employs a further 50 at its storage facilities in Snetterton.

In its most recent accounts it said its market share by volume was 3.3%.

The scheme has won the backing of environment secretary Michael Gove, who said: “Walkers are setting a fine example with this new scheme, and I want to see other companies step-up, follow suit and reduce their environmental impact.”

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