Wigan postie Helen has first class idea to save the planet

A Wigan green campaigner is leading the local battle against single-use plastics by bringing a crisp packet recycling scheme to the borough.


Helen Dryden, from Standish, was moved to do something to help the environment after David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II series included hard-hitting footage of how waste is affecting the oceans.

Iceland staff, Rebecca Elsden, Bradley Wainwright and Karen Evans, pictured with environmental campaigner Helen Dryden, and the Terracycle  project, encouraging customers to recycle empty crisp packets.

Iceland staff, Rebecca Elsden, Bradley Wainwright and Karen Evans, pictured with environmental campaigner Helen Dryden, and the Terracycle project, encouraging customers to recycle empty crisp packets.

She teamed up with supermarket Iceland to bring the partnership between Walkers Crisps and Terracycle to its Standishgate store in Wigan town centre.

That means the borough is now one of 6,000 places around the country helping to ensure the disposable items do not end up in landfill.

Helen, who works as a postwoman, says it is vital everyone does their bit to improve the environment.

The 48-year-old said: “People are becoming very aware of the harm single-use plastics are causing to the environment, particularly since Blue Planet II.

“A walk along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal is a stark reminder of the enormity of the problem.

“We need to immediately address the amount of single-use packaging that ends up as landfill or gets swept into our rivers and seas.

“I just wondered what I could do myself to help the situation and found out about this.

“It’s a drop in the ocean but every drop makes a stream and then a river and then eventually you get somewhere.

“Walkers Crisps produces more than 7,000 crisp packets every minute so the ability to collect the empty bags before they enter the natural environment is a step in the right direction.

“I decided to approach Iceland and they said they would install one of these receptacles in their store.

“Everybody needs to do their bit. Consumers definitely have a role to play in this.

“However, manufacturers of these single-use plastics need to take responsibility and look at how they are going to reduce and eventually replace it with more environmentally-friendly packaging.”

The simple scheme sees residents simply take their empty crisp packets along to Iceland and put them in the specially-marked recycling box.

Iceland, which has made its own eco commitments to getting rid of plastic packaging and cutting out palm oil, said it was delighted to be hosting the scheme.

Store manager James Jolly said: “Iceland is committed to tackling the plastics crisis we currently face.

“So, until plastic packaging is phased out, having local collection points for the deposit of empty crisp packets will at least prevent them from littering our streets, parks and waterways.”

Terracycle rules prevent bins being set up within five miles of each other, meaning there are limited opportunities for Helen to expand the scheme in the borough.

However, she is not deterred and is coming up with ways even more plastic can be recovered and recycled rather than causing a hazard to nature.

She said: “People eat crisps in local pubs and then leave the packets all over the place, so one thing I’m going to do is see if pubs are up for collecting the empty packets in a box for me to collect and then add to the others, rather than just chucking them.

“I’m going to start it in Standish.

“Terracycle also have schemes like collecting pouches for cat food which I’ve just found out about.

“All these things are good mechanisms for preventing this stuff ending up in landfill.

“However, the answer really is to stop producing this stuff.”