New study finds support for compostable packaging

Daphna Nissenbaum

A new poll has highlighted strong support amongst UK consumers for compostable packaging.

The Populus study found that 85% of respondents believe more compostable packaging should be used to wrap food as an alternative to plastic.

67% of respondents said they were concerned about increased plastic waste during lockdown. Asked to choose whether consumers, government or the food industry should take most responsibility for reducing the use of plastic in packaging, 69% of respondents thought the food industry should take a lead, with 58% saying they are prepared to pay more for food wrapped in compostable materials.

The poll of 2,104 UK adults was commissioned by compostable flexible packaging company TIPA. The firm’s compostable materials have been implemented by the likes of Waitrose and Ocado.

Daphna Nissenbaum, CEO and co-founder of TIPA said, “The vast majority of UK consumers are concerned about increased plastic waste, and they are looking to the food industry and the government to empower them to buy sustainable alternatives, even if it costs more. While conventional plastics continue to endanger our oceans, wildlife, natural areas, and our health; compostable packaging can fully degrade and return to the earth safely.

“Despite crucial differences in the materials, compostables continue to be treated the same way as conventional plastic by UK legislation. A plastics tax which makes no distinction between the two will have a perverse effect, actively undermining efforts to shift toward compostable materials. The tax and the coming Environment Bill are both prime opportunities to support innovative, environmentally-friendly materials, but at the moment the UK government is missing the boat.

“Now is the time for decision-makers to show leadership, and encourage compostable packaging for the sake of the natural environment.”

David Newman, MD of the Bio-based and Biodegradable Industries Association added, “The Government wants councils across the country to collect food waste from 2023, but the success of these schemes depends on keeping conventional plastics out of food bins, and out of the soil.  The best way to do this is to ensure that compostable materials are used in food packaging, and in food waste bin liners, so that food and packaging can break down safely together. We know the UK is heavily polluting its food systems with (micro) plastics, and compostables can help stop this. We have a huge composting industry in the UK capable of treating these materials and already doing so in many places.

“Ministers should urgently recognise the role of compostable packaging in reducing non-recyclable plastic waste, by encouraging collection of compostable packaging with food so that materials like film can be safely and effectively composted.”