SEA swimmers were astonished when they found a 24-year-old crisp packet washed up on the beach.

Friends Paul Smith and Kate Lancaster were going for a Sunday morning dip off Brighton beach when they spotted the Walkers crisp bag on the pebbles just below Royal Crescent.

The cheese and onion packet was still intact, despite showing an expiry date of October 1996.

Kemp Town resident Paul, 55, said the find was “incredible” but worrying.

The Argus: The packet is at least 24 years oldThe packet is at least 24 years old

“When Kate showed me the date I was shocked it was still usable,” the Brighton Swimming School owner said. It looked like I could’ve bought it yesterday.

“It’s incredible someone in their teenage years could have thrown this in the sea. They’d be in their forties now.

“What it shows is rubbish doesn’t just go away.

“There’s a good chance it will outlive you.”

The Argus: Paul Smith said he was shocked at how old the crisp packet wasPaul Smith said he was shocked at how old the crisp packet was

Paul suspects the packet was chucked in the Channel from the West Country 24 years ago

before slowly making its way to Brighton.

He now plans to put it on display at Brighton Swimming Centre in Kemp Town to highlight the importance of keeping beaches clean.

“It’ll be a reminder to the children how important it is not to throw things away,” he said.

“It makes you worry about the future and how much rubbish there really is in the sea.

“What this shows is packaging has got to be made in a way that’s biodegradable.

“I’m hopeful after Covid more green policies are introduced.”

Brighton Surfers Against Sewage spokesman Andrew Coleman said the finding was “sad but not unusual”.

“We call it retro rubbish. It’s a sad indictment of our throwaway culture,” he said.

The Argus: Surfers Against Sewage spokesman Andrew ColemanSurfers Against Sewage spokesman Andrew Coleman

“If you throw away a crisp packet it’s likely to be around for 100 to 300 years.

“Our message would be to always dispose of your rubbish properly.”

Brighton Pavilion Green MP Caroline Lucas said the find showed there is a plastic pollution crisis.

“There can scarcely be a better advert for banning single-use plastic,” she said.

“For every bag washed up on the beach, there must be thousands polluting our seas and endangering marine life.

“It’s outrageous that not only has the Government dragged its feet on ending plastic pollution, it has even delayed the ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds for six months.”

The Argus: Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas called for single-use plastic to be bannedBrighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas called for single-use plastic to be banned

Brighton Greenpeace spokesman Jamie Smith said the plastic problem needed to be solved at the source.

“The answer is simple: make and use less plastic,” he said.

A Walkers spokeswoman said: “We share concerns about litter found on our beaches and want to help build a system where plastic never becomes waste.

“Our ultimate goal is for people to be able to put all types of flexible packaging into their home recycling bin. People across the UK can recycle their crisp packets through the Walkers recycling scheme.”