Ocean lover Adam Western was sick of picking up Mentos mint wrappers from his favourite beach so he decided it was time somebody took on the global confectionery giant.
- Ocean-lover Adam Western is taking on the confectionery giant Mentos
- He has started a petition calling for individual Mentos to be wrapped in something other than plastic
- To prove his point, Mr Western has made a film showing how easy it is to catch a fish using a Mentos wrapper
He enlisted the help of a fishing buddy and together they filmed the catch and release of a fish using only a Mentos wrapper as bait.
Mr Western is now waging war on the tiny, blue packets and is successfully encouraging local businesses to stop providing free over-the-counter minty treats.
Time to make a change
Mr Western, who lives in the picturesque coastal town of Denmark is south-west WA, spends a lot of time in the ocean and often picks up rubbish from the beach.
“It must have been a few days in a row I saw those little Mentos packs and I thought, ‘I’ve had enough of these things’,” he said.
“They were already in my brain because I have been to conference centres and functions for work and restaurants and I’ve noticed a lot of places hand them out.
“I came home one day and said ‘right, I’m going to send an email to Mentos and tell them to change their packaging’.”
Friends told Mr Western that email was a bit outdated, and his voice would be better heard over social media.
“I did some social media posts, tagging Mentos, trying to get their attention,” he said.
Denmark local Adam Western, with best mate Sid, is waging a packaging war on Mentos. (ABC Great Southern: Ellie Honeybone)
Making his voice heard
In the weeks since the “Go mental at Mentos” social media campaign began, Mentos’ parent company Perfette Van Melle has not responded to the calls for change.
Mr Western decided to go one step further and started a petition, calling for the individual Mentos to be wrapped in paper or another bio-degradable material.
“Or just stop wrapping the lollies individually all together,” he wrote on the petition page which has been signed by almost 700 people so far.
The fight then took him out onto the Wilson Inlet, where he and fishing expert John Taylor demonstrated how easy it was to catch a fish using just a couple of Mentos wrappers as bait.
“We drifted around and it didn’t take us long, probably within 20 minutes we had a fish,” Mr Western said.
Mr Taylor wasn’t surprised at how quickly the fish chomped on the plastic wrappers.
“I think it’s a case of it just being the colour — something different in the water that they might mistake for a bait fish,” he said.
Adam Western began his mission to rid the world of Mentos single mint wrappers after he kept finding them washed up on his local beach. (ABC Great Southern: Ellie Honeybone)
Finding success, one business at a time
Mr Western took his Mentos campaign to the streets and successfully managed to convince his nearby Bunnings store and two Westpac branches to stop providing single-use Mentos mints for free to their customers.
Bunnings area manager Peter Kingwell said the store teams were always open to feedback from customers.
“On this occasion, the Albany team were happy to remove Mentos from the Trade Desk at Adam’s request,” he said.
Westpac Albany confirmed they were sourcing more sustainable options for customers after listening to customer feedback.
Mr Western said it felt great to receive such positive responses, and he started to realise he could actually make a difference.
“A friend suggested that I might get sued but I said ‘why is it all right for them to pollute our world just because its cost effective but it’s not alright for us to call them out on it?’
“One of my goals is to get a nasty letter from Mentos actually, I would love to enter a dialogue with them.”
The ABC contacted Perfette Van Melle but did not receive a reply at the time of publication.
Almost 700 people have signed the “Go mental at Mentos” campaign petition. (Supplied: Adam Western/Facebook)
A single person can make a difference
Anas Ghadouani is a Professor of Environmental Engineering at UWA and says that anything that is made out of plastic these days can make it into the oceans.
“Now probably someone has done the maths and looked at how many Mentos we use in Australia daily,” he said
“I just came out of a business meeting and there were lots of Mentos wrappers there.
“I think it’s is a legitimate question. My answer to that is anything we can do today is significant.
“We just need to think — is there an alternative for this kind of wrapper?”
Professor Ghadouani is not suggesting Mentos become wrapper-free, but adapt to wrappers that are not plastic-based.
Global food and beverage giant Nestle, who make KitKat chocolate bars, have committed to making 100 per cent of their packaging reusable or recyclable by 2025.
The company is exploring a range of innovations, including new paper-based materials as well as compostable polymers that are also recyclable
“That is what is great about initiatives like this [Go Mental at Mentos],” Professor Ghadouani said.
“We should celebrate people for attracting attention to a single problem that can be solved.
“It can go a long way — we need multiple initiatives and lots of awareness because these are significant problems.”
Adam Western has been picking up Mentos wrappers at Ocean Beach near Denmark (ABC Great Southern: Benjamin Gubana)
Mentos is just the beginning
Mr Western is taking his fight against plastic one step further, with Aussie staple Masterfoods now in his sights.
He would like to see them stop making the squeezy portion-control packaging and instead, stick to reusable plastic bottles.
“I’ve lived a good life and it’s probably not going to affect me as such, but for the next generation plastic is a catastrophe happening right now,” he said.
“I’ve been lucky with my job [as a marine engineer] to go to some of the most remote beaches in Australia that nobody’s ever been to.
“The sad thing is, the more remote a beach it is, the cleaner it used to be but nowadays the more remote a beach is, the dirtier it is because it’s just full of plastic.
“Hey, fresh breath is nice but is it really worth polluting the oceans?”