‘A like-for-like switch from plastic to compostable packaging across all packaging segments will not work, but understandably there is currently great confusion for packaging designers and brand managers. We wanted to clarify exactly why and when compostable packaging is a good solution.
‘Generally, if it helps bring food waste into the food waste system – the composting system, then it’s a good use of a compostable solution. Teabags, ketchup sachets, and crisp packets for example will all be contaminated with food and it makes good sense to keep that food in the right waste stream.
‘On the flip side, no composter wants to be sent compostable packaging that really should be in a different waste stream – paper, for example. You’re not going to throw out your compostable clothes delivery bags with your food waste. It will just end up going to landfill or incineration. The feedstock of compostable biomaterials is limited and it is crazy for us to be using them wrongly, a waste of a valuable resource.
‘Compostables have a crucial role to play in ending the scourge of plastic, but only if they are used correctly. We created this report to help clear up the very understandable compostable conundrum so we keep our composting systems and our soils clear of plastic.’
A Plastic Planet co-founder
The report’s release comes as the UK prepares to introduce separate food waste collections from households, businesses and organisations, which would see a 1.35 million tonnes increase in food waste collected by 2029.
The Environment Bill, which is currently being debated in Parliament, will see this implemented across the country by 2023.
However the government is yet to give clear guidance on the role compostable packaging will play.
Green list items, where the compostable material can act as a bio-conduit for food waste without contaminating it, include carrier bags, fruit and vegetable stickers, and teabags.
Red list items identified included pallet shrink wrap, bottles, non-food packaging bags and clothing apparel and shoes packaging, as these are unlikely to be disposed of with food waste.
Campaigners believe a comprehensive list for when, where and how compostable materials should be implemented is vital in tackling the world’s waste crisis.