A few states are at the forefront of the compostable packaging boom and are building composting infrastructure. centered on the worldResource recovery leaders Erin Levine and Elly Ventura share lessons the leader in compostable packaging is learning as California, Colorado and other states introduce composting and extended producer responsibility programs for packaging fiber and plastic.
Making packaging sustainable — whether it can be conveniently recycled or composted to return the material to nature without pollutants — is key to reducing the 292 million tons of solid waste created each year in the United States as of 2018. Only 32% of this waste was recycled or composted. World Centric has stopped using PFAS, the controversial “eternal chemicals” that render compost containing foodservice items unusable in agriculture. The company is experimenting with new biocompostable plastics for use in cups and as liners in fiber bowls and takeout packaging.
Progress in composting is a patchwork – while there are approximately 4,000 composting sites in the United States, only about 10% of those programs offer industrial packaging composting. California continues to expand its composting capacity after passing SB 1383, which calls for curbside collection of compostable food waste and packaging across the state. On the other hand, Colorado recently proposed limiting composting to food waste – compostable packaging may not be processed in the state.
Packaging manufacturers can help by designing products to be recyclable and compostable and labeling products to help customers find responsible ways to dispose of them. Erin and Elly say standardizing labeling, including making it clear which materials require the higher temperatures achieved in industrial composting, will help consumers make better purchasing decisions. You can learn more about World Centric at worldcentric.com.