Sustainable Packaging Coalition releases report on Compostable Packaging – The Reality on the Ground

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) has released a report, Compostable Packaging – The Reality on the Ground, summarizing the results of its survey of industrial composting facilities that accept food discards. The SPC surveyed 40 US food composting facilities of varying sizes and technologies to pinpoint the disconnect between packaging manufacturers and the composting facilities expected to handle packaging after use.

The survey questions included the type of composting technology used, types of compostable packaging accepted, problems with compostable packaging, and solutions to problems faced. The SPC also asked if organic certification (the ability to sell compost to growers of organic food) is still attainable when composting bioplastics and how labeling can improve the composting process. (The Early Adopters section of this Sustainable Plastics website includes similar information on composters accepting biobased products.) The report summarizes and analyzes the survey results, including how to account for variability and bias in the qualitative responses.

Among the findings of the SPC report are:

  • Many composters avoid accepting compostable packaging as they see them as contaminants;
  • Only 67.5% of facilities require packaging to have met a compostability standard or certification before accepting them in their facilities, and
  • 80% of facilities increase throughput by actively developing food waste recovery programs.

This report can provide direction for future work on using composting as a packaging end-of-life option.

Compostable Packaging – The Reality on the Ground (10 pages) is available for $50 on the SPC website at: http://www.sustainablepackaging.org/content/?type=5&id=composting.