scorecardThis UK company is selling chips in a fully biodegradable “paper” bag; is this the future of single-use packaging?
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This UK company is selling chips in a fully biodegradable “paper” bag; is this the future of single-use packaging?

This UK company is selling chips in a fully biodegradable “paper” bag; is this the future of single-use packaging?
SustainabilitySustainability2 min read
Friends, families and partners will come and go, but the marriage between Indian parties and store-bought potato chips is the ‘forever-after’ romantics dream of. With a market valued at Rs 9,000 crores and still climbing, it is abundantly clear that Indians love their chips. But convert that figure into actual packets of chips, and you have millions of kilograms of stubborn plastic waste — non-recycled junk that will invariably end up as microplastics back into our lungs, liver and blood.

To fix this issue, something that has been requested of the biggest FMCG manufacturers for decades, the UK’s British Crisp Co. has introduced the first-ever recyclable paper chip bag. This innovative packaging uses an innovative water soluble and biodegradable polymer called Hydropol as a plastic alternative, making it fully recyclable through curbside programs.

"Brits consume over eight billion packets of crisps each year, the majority of which are not recyclable and end up in landfill or incinerators — that’s a lot of waste and a huge environmental problem," stated Tom Lock, CEO of The British Crisp Co.

According to Aquapak, the company behind Hydropol, the key material in this packaging is tough, stable, and protected against oils, greases, fats, and a bunch of other stuff, making it an attractive plastic alternative. Importantly, Hydropol does not break down into harmful microplastics, and is non-toxic and marine-safe, ensuring it degrades without a trace if released into the environment.

However, what makes it truly exciting is the fact that it can be recycled, re-pulped, composted, and even breaks down in anaerobic environments. Despite the addition of a thin aluminium layer to maintain product freshness, its recyclability remains unaffected. You could even give it to a paper-recycling plant!

"This is a huge opportunity for brands and producers who now have a viable, functional, and recyclable alternative that enables full fibre recovery in a standard paper recycling process," explained Mark Lapping, CEO of Aquapak to Packaging World. The material, which the company claims costs the same as existing bags, is already being used in many products, such as pet food bags, dishwasher tablets and heat-sealable paper mailer bags.

The British Crisp Co. plans to roll out these innovative bags across the UK in shops, pubs, hotels, and coffee shops, starting with their most popular flavours: sea salt, salt and vinegar, and cheese and onion. This initiative signifies a substantial leap towards reducing plastic pollution, offering a scalable, eco-friendly solution for the snack industry and beyond.

India’s struggle with the plastic menace is a well-documented issue. According to the Plastic Waste Makers Index, India ranked third among the countries producing single-use plastic waste globally in 2019. Despite multiple attempts to ban manufacture and usage of single-use plastic items, many experts have expressed dissatisfaction with its enforcement. Until the major producers of such junk take notice and do something about the problem, clogged rivers, landfills and drains will continue to be a common problem in the country.

This move by The British Crisp Co. is part of a wider trend toward sustainable packaging. Globally, companies are seeking to reduce plastic pollution, from resorts eliminating single-use plastics to airlines rethinking in-flight service materials. These collective efforts highlight the significant shift towards sustainability in various industries, addressing the critical need to mitigate plastic pollution and its environmental impact — something that Indian manufacturers need to take into account immediately.