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New policy briefing on home compostable plastics

The Plastic Waste Innovation Hub share a new policy briefing on home compostable plastics.

Compostable plastics have been growing in popularity as part of a wider drive to reduce plastic waste and pollution. Much of the debate has focused on if and how these materials might be incorporated into the municipal waste system. However, little attention has been given to another disposal route for compostable plastic packaging: home composting.

Key findings from the Big Compost Experiment citizen science project are;

  • Home composting is not currently a viable effective or environmentally beneficial end of life option for compostable or biodegradable packaging.

  • The compostable and biodegradable plastics that are currently being sold in packaging applications do not fully degrade in home composting conditions (including those that have been certified as home compostable).

  • Although people are attracted by the idea of compostable plastics, they are confused about appropriate disposal routes. In particular, the distinction between items that are suitable for home composting versus those that require industrial composting is lost on many people.

  • Where people make their own compost at home, they typically use it for growing food crops. This means that there could be an impact on the food chain of any substances put in to a home composter. We need to know more about the potential environmental and health impacts of microplastics and the inks and glues used in compostable packaging items.

    Accessible format available here.
Download Big compost policy briefing November 2022 FINAL
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