Paper recyclers say no to food and suggest limits for plastic, in new WRAP and CPI guidelines
Is your paper being recycled? Anything more than food staining on paper packaging is problematic for paper recycling, according to the new recycling guidelines from The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI).
Vegware believes that compostables solve the issue of food contamination on catering disposables. Compostable packaging and food waste can be recycled together in industrial composting, leaving other dry recycling cleaner for processing.
Mixed materials challenge the recycling process
Conventional foodservice packaging is notoriously challenging to recycle as it is a combination of materials.
Any raw paper or board materials contaminated with food waste or other mixed materials can undermine the full benefits of recycling paper.
Food waste’s negative effect on recycling
The guide states that surface staining of packaging is processable, but leftovers or food attached to the packaging is unacceptable for recycling. Vegware’s experience in working with the waste sector is that both the packaging and food waste are then sent to waste disposal.
Vegware is aware that uncontaminated PET water bottles have an established recycling infrastructure, but a cardboard sandwich wedge with a plastic lining and window and contaminated with food waste doesn’t.
The plastic problem
Over 3-5% plastic contamination puts pressure on the process. For example, from Vegware’s work with foodservice, the windows in sandwich wedges and plastic linings in coffee cups are a considerable recycling issue.
A compostable solution?
Current catering disposables seem unsuitable for recycling. Instead, Vegware believes foodservice should look to consider compostable packaging.
Vegware uses a variety of renewable plant-based materials to manufacture our products – we use:
- plant-based PLA for our clear windows, and to line our hot cups and soup containers
- reclaimed sugarcane to make bagasse food containers
- card and paper for our coffee cups and sandwich wedges
- areca palm leaves for our tableware
- NatureFlex – a clear compostable film made from wood pulp – for our salad box windows and bags
- Vegetable and water-based inks for all our printing
Our full range also holds the deepest set of compostability certification.
This eliminates the complication of mixed materials. All our plant-based catering disposables can be composted together with food leftovers and baked-on goods, turning it into nutrient-rich compost for farmers’ fields. See UK regions with composting here.