Walkers to Try Potato Starch for Potato Chip Packaging

Walkers to Try Potato Starch for Potato Chip Packaging

Walkers is investigating how to transform old potato peelings into crisp packets as part of its latest drive to deliver more environmentally sustainable packaging.

The PepsiCo-owned firm has been looking at a number of ways to make more environmentally friendly packets for crisps as part of the Carbon Trust's Carbon Reduction Label initiative, and claims to have already cut the carbon footprint of one of its standard bag of crisps by seven percent.

Now the company is looking at extracting starch from potato skins and turning it into packaging.

"Imagine making a crisp packet out of potato peelings," Richard Evans, president of PepsiCo UK and Ireland, told BBC Radio 4 yesterday. "In reality, if you think about starch -- and you know how sticky starch is -- if you could mass it together you could create a layer of starch and stabilise that. We could use the peelings we have, that today go to animal feed and other recycling uses, to be turned into a crisp packets."

He said packets made out of peelings could be used for some of Walkers smaller brands within 18 months.

According to the Carbon Trust, a cheese and onion Walkers crisp bag has a carbon footprint of 80g, 34 percent of which is related to packaging.

The development is likely to win plaudits from green consumers after one of PepsiCo's US subsidiaries, Frito-Lay, this week performed an embarrassing u-turn, binning the world's first 100 percent biodegradable bag, following an outcry from consumers who complained the new bags were too noisy.

The completely compostable SunChips bag from Frito-Lay had become the subject of a Facebook page entitled "SORRY BUT I CAN'T HEAR YOU OVER THIS SUNCHIPS BAG", which had garnered 45,000 followers.

Air Force pilot and video blogger J Scot Heathman recorded the rustling of the bags at around 95 decibels, as noisy as an underground train and just loud enough to cause hearing damage.

"While there was a huge amount of enthusiasm surrounding the launch of our compostable SunChips bag, we've also received feedback regarding how the new packaging has affected the consumer experience, including its noise," said SunChips in a statement.

However, the company said that it was still looking to reduce its environmental impact and hinted that it could soon introduce an alternative biodegradable crisp packet. "We have several new compostable package options in the works that look promising and look forward to introducing the next-generation compostable bag to consumers in the near future," it said.

This article originally appeared on BusinessGreen.com, and is reprinted with permission.

Photo CC-licensed by clive darr, and shows a bag of "Cajun Squirrel" flavored crisps, an actual flavor proposed by PepsiCo as part of a contest launched in 2009.