Why don’t we use compostable packaging?
We’ve looked into compostable packaging materials, and after careful consideration, we don’t believe that compostable plastics are right for right now.
This is because whilst compostable packaging materials have the potential to break down more quickly than conventional packaging, they will only do so if exposed to very specific conditions.
Depending on the material, different levels of warmth, moisture, microbes and oxygen are all required to break compostable packaging down. Whilst these conditions are found in home compost heaps and Industrial Composting facilities, most of us don’t have access to these facilities. For example, only 3%* of UK households have home compost heaps and the majority of Council food waste collections go to ‘Anaerobic Digesters’ - a totally different process to composting.
The lack of composting facilities means that most compostable packaging is likely to end up with general waste where they are unlikely to degrade as landfill does not have the composting conditions needed to break them down. The same goes for compostable packaging that leaks out into the environment: composting conditions are not present in the open countryside or in our oceans meaning compostable packaging has the potential to litter our land & oceans in the same way as plastic does.
There is also the risk that compostable packaging is often indistinguishable from plastic packaging, and so can contaminate the plastic recycling process.
With all of this in mind, we currently do not believe compostable plastics are a sustainable solution until a better composting infrastructure is developed within the UK. This is why we are exploring alternatives that already have established recycling infrastructures in the UK & abroad.