There have been lots of small wins in the quest to make more sustainable and recyclable packaging: mince is vacuum-packed, Quality Street wrappers are now made of paper, Hellmann’s mayonnaise comes in a 100% recycled plastic bottle. Even the Pringles tube – once the “number one recycling villain” – has been redesigned.

But despite the best collective efforts of manufacturers and supermarkets, there’s been a real barrier (quite literally) to progress when it comes to making crisps and snacks recyclable: the plastic and metallised film (the silvery inside layer) is too difficult to recycle in domestic plastic recycling waste streams. You have to visit one of the supermarket collection centres or a Terracycle drop off point. Or send it in a Zero Waste box (not before forking out for the pleasure, mind).

Not any more. In a recycling breakthrough, The British Snack Co has partnered with Evopak, a Ukrainian packaging converter, to develop the UK’s first recyclable crisp packet. Using a revolutionary new process called Hydropol, developed and manufactured by a UK university spinout called Aquapak Polymers, the crisp packets can be recycled with paper and card using regular kerbside collection, while the hydroponic properties of Hydropol mean the packs retain their crucial barrier properties at up to 70°C to ensure the crisps stay crisp over a viable shelf life.

It’s an inspirational story involving brilliant British technological innovation and entrepreneurship combined with Ukrainian enterprise and resolve. And it could be a real game-changer.

An estimated eight billion packets of crisps and snacks are consumed per annum in the UK. By 2030 that figure is expected to reach 11.1 billion [Statista]. That’s 30 million packets a day. The vast majority will be going to landfill.

It’s true current production of the hydroponic polymer is limited, but there is lots of scope to scale up if sales take off for the challenger brand, or if others follow suit once The British Snack Co’s exclusivity deal expires.

And crucially this is not just for use with crisps and snacks. Evopak is currently talking to retailers about own-label opportunities in confectionery, biscuits and snacks, with petfood, breakfast cereals and other dry goods also viable.

The opportunities more broadly for Aquapak’s Hydroponic technology are also flexible. It could licence the technology to other converters. And it is already being used in healthcare goods such as Planera, the certified flushable and biodegradeable sanitary pad challenger brand, while coming soon is Kind Flush, the first flushable wet wipe that, unlike current hydrophobic versions, doesn’t convert into microplastic.