PepsiCo Europe announced last week that it will trial packets containing recycled content for a range from its Walkers crisp brand in the UK later this year.

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A PepsiCo spokesperson told letsrecycle.com that moving to mono-materials would make their crisp packets “easier to recycle”.

The company called on the government to speed up its timeline for flexible plastic like crisp packets to be mandated as part of kerbside recycling, saying they should be collected along with the rest of the core list of materials from 2023.

And, the European arm of the multinational food corporation says it will eliminate virgin fossil-based plastic across all its crisp packets by 2030. This commitment applies to brands including Walkers, Doritos, and Lay’s.

Silviu Popovici, chief executive officer of PepsiCo Europe, said: “Flexible packaging recycling should be the norm across Europe. We see a future where our bags will be free of virgin fossil-based plastic.

“They will be part of a thriving circular economy where flexible packaging is valued and can be recycled as a new packet. We’re investing with our partners to build technological capacity to do that.

“We now need an appropriate regulatory landscape in place so that packaging never becomes waste.”

Recycled Content

The recycled content PepsiCo will use in its trial will be derived from “previously used plastic”, the company said, and the renewable content will come from the by-products of plants, such as used cooking oil or waste from paper pulp.

The company is “still working out what’s possible and how far we can go” in terms of how much recycled content the crisp packets would contain, the spokesperson said.

They added that they could not disclose the details of their investment in the packaging, but said it was a “substantial commitment”.

Flexible Packaging

The material will be sourced from packaging company Amcor, PepsiCo’s flexible packaging partner in Europe. Amcor says it “enhanced the material technologies” of the company’s packaging to make it easier to recycle.

PepsiCo says its new bag designs, which contain greater proportions of “recyclable plastics like polypropylene”, meet the design for recycling guidelines developed by the Circular Economy for Flexible Packaging (CEFLEX).

Gerald Rebitzer, sustainability director at Amcor, said: “We are building a future where flexible packaging is part of the circular economy.

“Together with PepsiCo, we enhanced the material technologies on PepsiCo’s new crisp packet to make it easier to recycle.

“And we are beginning to integrate renewable and recycled content into PepsiCo’s packaging.

“To meet the demands of our clients like PepsiCo, we encourage more partners upstream to invest in the supply chains of these new materials.”

PepsiCo estimates it may achieve up to 40% greenhouse gas emissions reduction per metric ton of packaging material by switching to virgin fossil-free material.