A 23 year-old crisp packet from 1995, found by a litter picker on Llanddwyn Beach on Anglesey, has highlighted the lasting effects that plastic waste has on our environment.

Jenny Dickinson, who works at Bangor University, regularly collects litter while out walking with her family. Jenny said: “Litter has always been something that has bothered me and recently it seems to be getting worse.

What was happening in 1995:

The computer-animated film ‘Toy Story’ was released in cinemas in the United States.

Manchester United player Eric Cantona, attacked a spectator with his famous kung fu kick.

No.1 singles included: “Cotton Eye Joe” by the Rednex, “Unchained Melody” by Robson and Jerome and “Back For Good” by Take That.

Julie Goodyear, who played Bet Lynch in the ITV soap opera Coronation Street for nearly 30 years, left the show.

An unknown girl band called ‘Touch’ changed their name to ‘The Spice Girls’

“I purchased a grabber and bag hoop and started trying to do litter pickups around my village and in the places we walk. My 5-year-old son wanted to join in so I purchased a small grabber for him and we try to combine a family walk with litter picking when we can.

“This past weekend, knowing the Storm Erik would wash up a lot of litter we focussed our attention on Llanddwyn Beach and forest and did a litter pick on both days. On Saturday we removed a bin bag full and on Sunday we took away another bag full along with the containers that had washed up.

 

 

 

“One of the most scary and fascinating things we found was an old Walkers crisp packet in amazingly good condition. It was 23 years old! I suspect that it has been buried in the sand dunes all of this time and the storm had washed part of the sand dune away, releasing it.

Examples of the other litter found include, styrofoam (I found a piece which some grass had grown through it had been in the dunes so long), polystyrene, plastic bottles, bottle lids of all shapes and sizes, straws, spoons, cotton bud sticks / lolly sticks, sweet/chocolate/crisp wrappers, cans, plastic bags, plastic cups, disposable barbecues, sanitary towels, rope, fishing line and an incredible amount of small bits of broken plastic which will eventually form microplastics as they are broken into smaller and smaller pieces.”

A packet of crisps takes just minutes to eat but the packaging can take up to eight decades to decompose. Walkers make 11 million packets of crisps a day. That makes for a lot of waste plastic waste! Following a petition last year in which 330,000 people called for action on packaging, the company has announced it will introduce a recycling scheme. Walkers has also pledged to make all their packaging 100 per cent recyclable or biodegradable by 2025.

Jenny added: “On the recycling issues – people can now recycle crisp packets through the Terracycle Scheme – there are local shops who will collect these items and then send them away, however there are none in Bangor at this time which is a shame.

“I also only recently became aware that lots of different types of plastic bags and packaging are recyclable at the bag collection points in large superstores like Tesco Bangor – bags that you buy bread in, the bags inside cereal packets, the bags containing frozen veg are all examples of things that will often include a label to say that they can be recycled in this way.”

A spokesperson for the Plastic Free Bangor campaign said: “Finding plastic like this on beach after that length of time really goes to show that plastic is forever. The tides have started to change on our attitude to plastic pollution but we mustn’t stop! More responsibility must be placed on producers rather than customers.”