Compostable Packaging Made Easy
Compostable Packaging Made Easy
There is a movement to reduce the reliance on plastic packaging and a race to find new alternatives.
Although reduction in packaging is a critical and initial step to lowering the issues created with packaged goods, it’s simply not enough to fully remove our reliance on packaging in our day to day lives.
New and innovative ways of packaging goods are appearing almost daily. It’s something that is gaining popularity amongst many brands and consumers. But how does it actually work for onward recycling?… or composting as the name suggests.
There is a big difference between “Biodegradable” and “Compostable”. Most plastic will only get biodegraded at industrial facilities. Although plastic does break down in the environment, it takes hundreds to thousands of years to do so and releases toxins into the atmosphere. The microplastics formed harm wildlife and pollute our oceans and waterways.
Newly formed Bioplastics can also be misleading. While the production of bioplastics is more eco friendly, many can’t be composted or recycled unless under specific conditions. Compostable goods on the other hand, are organic matter which break down and the end product has many beneficial uses which include fertilising and improving soil health. Certified Compostable packaging is often made up of natural ingredients that do in fact degrade in a composting environment, also potentially in an Anaerobic environment.
But how can this be done?
There are more plastic recycling systems based in the UK than there are compost facilities. However, compost facilities can often be larger in terms of throughput, giving a larger degree of composting in terms of tonnage produced.
The manufacturer and producers MUST ensure that there is clear availability to recycle/compost the items created. Simply adding a compostable packaging to the market is not enough. With every compostable packaging there should be clear information displaying how to safely and consciously dispose of it after use.
Although some councils do have collections for compostable packaging, be it in the food waste or green waste collections, a lot of them don’t! Due to the lack of recycling for these types of materials, items simply end up in landfill or incineration. In landfill these will contribute to greenhouse gasses, especially methane production, one of the most harmful to the environment.
It’s a misconception that biodegradable and compostable materials can be left out in nature and they will degrade. This is not the case! They need to be composted through the correct processes that are well managed and create the correct aerobic conditions for the happy little Aerobes (Microbes that thrive in oxygen) to do their job of breaking these materials down and making a lovely nutrient rich compost.
So how can we do this?
A home composting system is ideal. Whether it be a small home composting bin or a static pile bay at the local allotment. Growing your own food has great environmental benefits such as saving money, reducing packaging and creating less waste. Engaging with a hobby like this also has great well being benefits too.
Home composting and growing isn’t for everyone, if you’re buying from supermarkets, you can be conscious about what brands you buy. Ensure you check the packaging material type and know whether or not it can be responsibly disposed of. You can do this by checking the breakdown time to ensure you are not waiting 6 months to see it degrade. A happy compost turn around is 10-12 weeks.
You can also contact the producer or retailer to request information as to where their materials can be sent for responsible disposal and how to go about this from home. You can also check with your local council if they offer recycling services for certain types of material.
If you find that a product cannot be responsibly recycled or disposed of, you can contact the brand and ask them to do something about it. Offer them a service or collusion they could use to improve and demand change from them.
What MYgroup do…
MYgroup has operated industrial composting facilities for well over 12 years and also supplies AD facilities with processed materials for gas creation. Compostable packaging has been in that make up for well over 10 years and we have worked with many suppliers, manufactures and councils to test and validate their materials and then place them through our systems.
We also offer a nationwide collection of hard to recycle plastics via our Recycling Box services. Our boxes are delivered to your door and returned to us when full to process and recycle all non recyclable plastic waste. The waste plastics we collect are made into practical products such as home/community composting bins. Giving purpose to those pesky plastic food wrappers in a long term product that will set you on a journey to reduce plastic, create compost and grow healthy plastic free veggies!
For more information about our recycling services contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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