The British Snack Co paper crisps

Source: The British Snack Co

The packs are the result of over three years’ development

The British Snack Co has unveiled what it claims is a category “first”, a kerbside recyclable paper crisp packet.

Created in partnership with sustainable packaging manufacturer EvoPak, the inside of the wrapper is coated with a microscopic layer of aluminium and a layer of Hydropol, a water-soluble polymer resin developed and patented by British university spinout Aquapak Polymers.

The composite layers help the crisps inside the packs stay fresher for longer without impacting their recyclability, according to The British Snack Co.

The aluminium layer has a thickness of just 30 nanometres; by comparison a human hair is 80,000 to 100,000nm thick. The hydropol layer, meanwhile, can be easily washed away from the paper wrapper in recycling plants. 

As a result, the packs have been OPRL approved, which was “absolutely critical” to their launch, said British Snack Co founder Tom Lock. OPRL is an on-pack recycling labelling scheme whose green recycle logo certifies that the packets are recyclable in standard paper recycling mills. 

The new packs were the result of over three years’ development in partnership with EvoPak, which was in the process of developing paper packs for confectionery products.

However, they were especially challenging to make because “chocolate is pretty shelf stable… whereas if crisps are exposed to oxygen and water, they will go soft”.

“You need a really high barrier to keep the crisp, crisp,” explained Lock, adding there was ”a lot of trial and error involved” in the development process.

British Snacks Co has to date invested £150k into developing the 40g packs, which will be sold in pubs in Sea Salt and Salt & Vinegar for £1 to £1.50 each next month.

While the paper packs cost the business “about double” the amount its old plastic packs did, the transition “will only increase the price of our bag of crisps by about by just under 10%”, said Lock, adding that the packaging was “only a relatively small element of the total cost”.

“As a smaller business, we can be more agile. We’ve got lower overheads, so we can absorb things like that a lot more easily than the big companies, who are constantly looking at their margins,” Lock added.

“We know that the big companies see paper as the future. I just think they they don’t know how to do it, or they’re unwilling to do it for cost reasons.”

Eight billion crisp packets ending up in landfill

An estimated eight billion crisp packets are thrown away each year in the UK, ending up in landfill or incinerated. “That’s a lot of waste and a huge environmental problem,” added Lock. ”We have created the first fully recyclable crisp packet – something that consumers have been demanding for a long time.”

Mark Lapping, Aquapak’s CEO said the launch of the new crisps packets was a “significant milestone” for its Hydropol technology, which can be commercialised at scale. ”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.” It is also soluble, non-toxic and marine safe, he claimed, meaning that it still has a safe end-of-life even if it is not disposed of as intended.

Evopak director of business operations said the unique paper it had developed “has the potential to revolutionise packaging as we know it”. 

“The paper can be used in a range of applications from snacks and confectionery to petcare and cereals, and costs the same as existing materials.”