environmentfoodwaste

Are Your Favourite Popcorn Brands Wasting Plastic Packaging?

popcorn wasting plastic packagingPhoto by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

We all have our favourite lunchtime snacks, they are an important element of our working day, not only to provide ourselves with fuel but it gives us something to look forward to in the middle of the day. You open your bag of popcorn and you get frustrated of the amount of air in that plastic bag. Then you come to realise of a more important point. How much is this brand wasting plastic packaging?

Across the globe, popcorn is rapidly replacing many of our previously loved treats, such as chips, and in the UK popcorn sales have soared by over 169%.

Popcorn is no longer reserved just as a refreshment for the movies, its natural benefit of being low in calories makes it the perfect snack. Manufacturers are quickly realising gaps in the market and new flavours are constantly popping up on our shelves.

Which Popcorn Company Is Wasting Plastic Packaging?

However, it appears some brands are needlessly wasting plastic in their production and for the eco-conscious shopper, you may not be aware of the vast differences between packaging in the UK’s most popular brands. Direct Air recently conducted a study to highlight the worst culprits, you can read the full study at https://www.directair.co.uk/news/how-much-air-is-in-your-bag-of-popcorn/.

Just like chips, popcorn brands use air, more specifically nitrogen, to protect their product in transit and to keep it fresh until it reaches the consumer. We all understand the need for this, after all, we would be rather annoyed to open a crushed bag of stale popcorn each time we wanted a snack.

With such a focus on reducing plastic waste, surely brands should be seeking ways to reduce the amount of air used and therefore reducing the size of packaging. Unfortunately this does not seem to be the case.

Below are the results of some of our favourite brands and flavours and how much air is really being used within them.

Plastic Packaging Waste Statistics (Popcorn Brands)

Brand/FlavourPrice Per 100g (£)% Of Air In Bag
Proper Corn Peanut Butter & Almond1.6071
Nude Sweet & Salty1.5662
Nude Simply Salted1.9262
Tyrrell’s Sweet 1.9457
Metcalfe’s Toffee Apple2.2555
Tyrrell’s Sea Salted2.5055
Tesco Salted1.2455
Marks & Spencer Salted1.5455
Metcalfe’s Sweet ‘N Salt1.2554
Proper Corn Perfectly Sweet1.7854
Waitrose Sea Salty1.4353
Waitrose Sweet & Salty1.1153
Tesco Sweet & Salty0.9652
Butterkist Cinema Sweet1.7048
Butterkist Toffee1.0044
Marks & Spencer Salted Caramel0.5731

 With a staggering difference between the worst scoring at 71% and the best at just 31%, not only are some brands ignoring the need to reduce waste, but also leaving consumers out of pocket. The study reveals that for every £1.58 spent on popcorn, an eye-watering 86p is just on the air inside, which can leave consumers feeling out-of-pocket from misleading, larger packaging.

. But with such a huge difference between the 71% used in Proper Corn’s peanut butter & almond and the much smaller Marks & Spencer salted caramel’s 31%, why are some brands being able to achieve the same results with so much less air? In 2016, Marks & Spencer pledged to reduce the packaging in crisps and popcorn by 20% and it looks like they have kept to their word.

It has been estimated that a standard popcorn packet will take at least 80 years to degrade. Beach cleaners have discovered crisp and popcorn packaging that are 30-40 years old that have hardly begun to wither so this 8 decades estimate could be on the low side. 

More air, more wasted plastic packaging

More air equates to more packaging and as this product is purchased and consumed in large quantities and speed, manufacturers should be taking every step to reduce their wastage with the addition of less nitrogen.

Other snack companies have felt the sting of public scrutiny and are beginning to make changes to save our planet and keep their customers happy. Lays have pledged to make all their packaging 100% recyclable or biodegradable by 2025, a great start, if not a little too far away for our liking. Lays produce 7000 packets a minute so this will certainly be a huge positive on the environment. 

However, popcorn brands seem to have slipped the net when it comes to being thrown into the spotlight of public scrutiny and it is time to increase the pressure but raising awareness. 

Avoid Wasting Packaging: Solutions are Available

Daniel Hinde states: ‘I think there are some really interesting things happening within closed-loop, renewable and refillable packaging. Packaging is also available now especially for things like snack bars which can be completely composted and decompose down like a fruit peel. Edible food packaging is also something I have heard we will be seeing an introduction of which is exciting. We also have a lot of natural material packaging being developed which again can be composted and breaks down in a suitable environment. Particularly within the food and drink these kinds of solutions have to be taken into consideration on a per-product basis, as what works well for one product might not necessarily work well for another.’- Daniel Hinde, Greatergood Design 

Conclusion: Which popcorn company is wasting plastic packaging?

So, next time you are at the supermarket, you may make a conscious decision between these brands to get the most value and also the most sustainable. If you want to really scrutinise these brands, the worst value, pound for pound, is Tyrell’s salted, for the £2.50 you would be spending, £1.38 is on air which is roughly double what you’d pay for the average bag.

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