Walkers chip bag packaging creates logistics nightmare for UK postal service
The Royal Mail in the UK has put out a statement urging environmental campaigners to stop sending empty potato chip bags back to Walkers without an envelope.
The activity has become popular after the launch of a campaign urging the country's most popular chip producer to ditch its plastic packaging.
Activists are posting empty chip packets back to the company at its registered Freepost address that doesn't require customers to pay for a stamp.
Because of this, the Royal Mail is legally obliged to deliver the empty chip bags. It must treat the potato chip bags as mail as long as they're properly addressed.
"If an item is addressed properly and carries the correct postage then Royal Mail is obliged by law to handle and deliver the item to the stated address," a Royal Mail spokesperson said in a statement emailed to CNN.
In a separate statement, the postal service urged activists involved in the campaign to use an envelope.
"If they are taking part in this campaign we would urge them to put crisp packets in an envelope before posting," the statement said. “Customers who don't properly package their bags could cause delays or be taken out of the system altogether.”
The online campaign has been signed by more than 310,000 people and calls on PepsiCo-owned Walkers to make its plastic packaging more environmentally friendly.
Walkers produces 11 million bags of potato chips daily and the UK consumes around 6-billion packets of potato chips every year, according to campaign organizer Geraint Ashcroft.
"That's an awful lot of landfill and poison for the environment," Ashcroft wrote on the campaign's petition page.
Walkers is currently planning to roll-out plastic-free packaging by 2025.
The chip producer told CNN that it would continue to accept the returned chip packets, for use in its research.
.@walkers_crisps 2025 is too long to wait for you to use plastic free packaging. It’s just not good enough. You produce 4 billion packs per year. I’m sending these back to you so you can deal with your own waste. #PacketInWalkers pic.twitter.com/S13uiZXpdx— Jarred Livesey (@Jaz_Livesey) September 22, 2018
Campaigner Jarred Livesey wrote on Twitter that 2025 is not soon enough.
"2025 is too long to wait for you to use plastic free packaging. It's just not good enough. You produce 4 billion packs per year. I'm sending these back to you so you can deal with your own waste. #PacketInWalkers."
Other social media users have suggested the UK ditch its potato chip habit instead.
"What if - instead of buying crisps and posting the packages back to @walkers_crisps - we just save our planet AND cholesterol levels by not buying crisps...," Lisa Ann Pasquale wrote on Twitter.