Wrap publishes guidance for compostable packaging
A new publication entitled “Considerations for Compostable Plastic Packaging”, the Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap, Banbury / UK; has urged plastic packaging manufacturers to be clearer about whether their products are compostable, warning that vague claims made in some labelling were confusing consumers. “Labelling exists only in the form of the certifications for compostability, and these labels are unlikely to be understood by the majority of citizens, provide no information about disposal, do not account for waste collection variations at a local level, and there is no explanation as to where citizens can find further information,” the report says. Wrap’s guidance suggests producers avoid vague statements such as “100% compostable” without linking such claims to information about how such materials can be disposed.

Plastics waste processing (Photo: Wrap)
The UK group said that while key uses for compostable plastics included tea bags, food caddy liners, coffee pods, ready meal trays as well as fruit and vegetable stickers, compostable plastics were not a “licence to litter”, and appropriate and effective infrastructure needed to be in place. Helen Bird, Wrap’s strategic engagement manager, said that more than three quarters (77%) of people surveyed by the organisation believed compostable plastics were better for the environment than other types of packaging. But she warned the material was not a silver bullet for solving plastics pollution.

“Businesses need to be clear on when it is viable, given the complexities surrounding current treatment infrastructure. When it comes to recyclability, we are clear that a claim of ‘recyclable’ should only be made if it can be recycled in practice. ... it is critical that end markets for recycled plastics are not compromised; people need clear instruction not to place compostable plastics in the recycling bin.”

Bird added that there were certain applications where compostable material could be a helpful alternative to conventional plastics. “Absolute no-brainers include fruit stickers and tea bags. This new guidance will help steer decision-making on this complex and high-profile topic.”
11.02.2020 [244486-0]
Published on 11.02.2020

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