'I was asked to speak at the recent Food Packaging Services Association (FPA) Environmental Seminar about composting of food waste and the use of compostable packaging. The FPA is very much focussed on the important role plastic plays in preserving food but have realised that public opinion in particular in the last few months is that plastic is a massive problem. The event was attended by over 200 delegates with an opening address from Greenpeace and concluding with Lord Deben, very different from our organics conference!
I explained that there are actually some 50 sites throughout the UK who can, in principle (with the correct authorisations), accept certified EN13432 compostable packaging along with their green and food waste and we know that in a typical 8 week cycle it fully breaks down.
The key of course is to ensure if collected from restaurants, cafes etc. that it is has zero or at least negligible contamination of non-organic wastes and that there is a regular collection of the waste and distribution to the composter. It is not enough just to sell the packaging it is about the whole ‘package’. Some companies are already doing well from this model.
So a plea to members who have IVC or similar sites, if you work with the right supplier there is a huge opportunity to increase business by being prepared to accept clean food and compostable packaging inputs.
The FPA thought there was only one site in the UK that would take compostable packaging so when I said there were 50 sites they became very interested. In the Q&A session a couple of speakers said they had tried to get composters interested and been told 'no couldn’t take it'.
We are hopeful that soon compostable packaging will receive income via the PRN scheme so in other words composters who take in this material will receive additional income! I hope that of the some 50 sites in the UK they are open to this new interest and all the big chains were at the seminar all wanting solutions. I think our industry is in an excellent position to seize this new or renewed opportunity.'