Compostable packaging gets a little closer

SWITZERLAND has made a decisive step forward in the effort to develop a waste management infrastructure to allow the recycling of biodegradeable plastics.
Materials such as poly-lactic acid (PLA) are already employed by some makers of food service packaging, including London Bio-Packaging, Huhtamaki and Vegware.
Product packaging accounts for a significant proportion of the UK household waste sent to landfill every year. Bioplastics like PLA are potentially “compostable”, in so far as they can be transformed into useful natural products such as bio-fuels, mulches and high quality compost for use in agriculture.
But a great deal of work and cooperation is needed before the environmental benefits of these materials can be fully realised, involving stakeholders such as materials developers, municipal waste collectors and biowaste treatment plants.
The Swiss announcement of an “all-stakeholder consensus” regarding the treatment of biodegradeable plastics in waste streams makes it the first country to have reached this level of cooperation. The agreement includes restricted acceptance of bioplastics in treatment plants.
For more on compostable packaging see the “Breaking down the barriers to compostable packaging” story on page 10.