A multi-pronged, multi-stakeholder systems approach is needed to fully realize the potential of compostable packaging.
Large-scale composting has the potential to take approximately one-third of the municipal solid waste stream out of landfills, benefiting the economy, retaining resource availability and addressing climate change impact. Food waste comprises more than 10% of the U.S. waste stream, making it the third largest component.
Here are three areas to focus on, along with next steps. Certainly the future of composting and compostable packaging are bright, though the pace of growth remains frustratingly slow.
- Policy Approaches: Both voluntary and mandatory approaches are detailed, to include case studies, in the EPA’s recently published Managing and Transforming Waste Streams Tool for localities.
- Outreach and Education:Localities, composters, non-profits and compostable packaging manufacturers and brands can all help answer these critical questions:
- Why? In absence of strong policy drivers, why should an organization divert its food and compostable packaging waste?
- How? A number of toolkits are now available to help with this question within a number of sectors, but a national resource is needed.
- What? Particularly for packaging, this piece is critical to reducing and/or eliminating contamination.
- Contamination: Recyclers and composters are not merely waste disposal services, but also manufacturers looking to create a viable product. As with recycling, the more contamination that occurs, the less valuable the product and more expensive the process.
Source: Packaging Digest