Packaging firm call for change in labelling packaging as biodegradable

A plant-based packaging firm has warned that confusion around ‘compostable’ packaging could lead to an increase in littering.

Research carried out by RawPac found that one in five (18%) of consumers admit that they have dropped compostable food and drink packaging outside under the impression that it will degrade quickly.

Further research by the firm found that 38% of those asked said that they have had to remove compostable packaging from their home compost bin because it didn’t break down, as they did not realise that the packaging can only be dealt with at specialist recycling facilities.

Owner of Manchester-based Rawpac, Tim Wilson, says he believes that the confusion over the term ‘compostable’ could lead to an increase in ‘eco-littering’ by consumers buying the packaging in good faith.

He said, “Home composting isn’t suitable for most ‘compostable’ food and drink packaging. This sort of packaging requires a commercial composting facility for it to break down. But consumers can be forgiven for being confused. After all, it often says ‘compostable’ on the packaging. That’s why we’ve started calling our products ‘plant-based’, rather than ‘compostable’. It manages expectations.

“When consumers see ‘compostable’ on their packaging, they naturally think this means they can recycle their packaging at home. We feel that ‘plant-based’ is a more useful description.

“Consumers clearly have an appetite for helping the environment and are paying attention to what their packaging is made of, but if they end up disappointed and frustrated by their expectations and the mixed messages they’re getting, we risk that appetite declining very quickly.

“We’re at a crucial point in the journey toward reducing our carbon footprint and hitting a critical mass of consumers demanding sustainable products, but if they think that their own effort is wasted, we’ll lose that support and momentum very quickly indeed.”