Biome Bioplastics welcomes findings of key report on the UK’s compostable packaging market20 May 2019
Biome Bioplastics has welcomed the findings of a new report by the Biomass Biorefinery Network (BBNet), which has identified significant potential for the UK’s compostable plastic packaging market. Plastics in the Bioeconomy is the first published research into the current state of the UK’s compostable packaging market, as well as its growth potential.
Estimates indicate that there are approximately 10,000 tonnes of compostable packaging on the UK market at present, which is less than 1% of all consumer plastic packaging. However, the Plastics in the Bioeconomy report has found that there is potential for this figure to increase tenfold to over 100,000 tonnes by 2025. This projected growth is driven by the need for compostable packaging to package food items, plastics bags to hold food waste and food-contaminated convenience goods.
The UK government is currently taking a fundamental look at its regulations and policies relating to plastic packaging and food waste collections as part of a revised Waste and Resources Strategy. Furthermore, the WRAP-coordinated UK Plastics Pact (UKPP) collaborative initiative has brought together businesses from across the entire plastics value chain with government and non-governmental organisations to tackle the scourge of plastic waste. The UKPP has set targets of 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, with 70% of this packaging being effectively recycled or composted.
Paul Mines, the CEO of Biome Bioplastics, said: “It’s now over a year since WRAP announced ambitious targets for changes in plastic packaging in the UKPP. If 70% of this packaging is to be effectively recycled or composted by 2025, there is a mountain to climb.
"Only approximately 14% of the total plastic packaging put onto the market in the UK is reprocessed and once contaminated material is deducted no more than 10% is effectively recycled in the UK itself. In fact, 60% is not even collected for recycling and simply landfilled or incinerated instead, while an unquantified amount leaks into the environment.
"We need to change the way we specify and manage packaging. While recycling of conventional plastics will be part of the answer, ‘Plastics in the Bioeconomy’ highlights that, over the next five years, some 7% of the solution could come from bio-based compostable plastics.”
Compostable packaging recently hit the headlines when various media outlets inaccurately reported that compostable bags were still capable of carrying items after spending three years in sea water and soil. This was following a study into how biodegradable, compostable and other plastics degrade in the natural environment.
Commenting on the study and the role compostable packaging has in the overall packaging mix, Paul added:
“While compostable bags do biodegrade quicker in natural environments compared to other plastics, the industry has always maintained that they aren’t meant to be discarded in such a manner. Compostable plastics are material that can enable a bio-based circular economy within specific applications and are designed to compost at the end of life in industrial and/or home composting systems, I cannot stress this enough.”