New guidance addresses confusion over compostable plastic packaging

IOM3
,
6 Feb 2020

The UK Plastics Pact Initiative developed by WRAP and supported by IOM3 has today published new guidance to help businesses make informed choices when considering the use of compostable packaging.

Based on the products and infrastructure that are available to packaging designers and specifiers today, the guidance identifies key applications and opportunities for compostable plastic packaging. These are often items which are likely to have food residue on them and could potentially facilitate the recycling of food waste. The key potential uses are:

  • Food caddy liners (and other bags such as carrier bags or fruit and vegetable bags that could be used as food caddy liners)
  • Fruit and vegetable stickers
  • Tea bags
  • Coffee pods
  • Ready meal trays
  • 'Closed loop' situations e.g. festivals

Recommendations about how to communicate with citizens about appropriate disposal of compostable plastic packaging are provided for example, explaining whether the item can be composted at home or not, and highlighting the importance of not putting them in the recycling bin with conventional plastics.

Helen Bird, Strategic Engagement Manager at WRAP, said, 'We know from research that 77% of citizens believe that compostable plastic is better for the environment than other types of packaging. However, compostable plastic is still plastic, and it is no silver bullet for solving plastic pollution.'

The guidance highlights the importance of communicating with people to ensure they end up in the correct bin, but the challenges in doing so owing to the current infrastructure. Some instructional phases are suggested such as "place in your food or garden waste bin if your local council accepts it", while also recommending statements to counter the risk that some people may see compostable plastics as a license to litter.

In March, WRAP is launching a campaign aimed at consumers which will provide factual and balanced information about plastics, including compostable plastics.

Read the full guidance report at www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/Considerations-for-compostable-plastic-packaging.pdf

www.wrap.org.uk/content/the-uk-plastics-pact