14 tonnes of compostable packaging – on trial!

With compostable packaging increasingly in demand, some voices are questioning whether these materials can break down in UK composting facilities – at scale.

We want to find out the answers. That is why Vegware is part of a very large-scale composting trial, currently underway in Cambridgeshire, UK. See the scale for yourself in this short film:

An item may hold compostability certification, but does that mean it can successfully break down in a real-world composting environment? Small quantities of compostable packaging can be industrially composted with food and garden waste, but what about larger amounts?

Millions of compostable tea bags, coffee pods, catering disposables, caddy liners and bags are in the spotlight – will they compost as expected?

A group of compostable packaging and materials producers have teamed up with industrial composting facility EnVar, with expert advice from REA Organics.

What’s in the composting trial?

  • Over 7.3 million tea bags provided by Ekaterra brands PG Tips and Pukka, and Biome Bioplastics
  • Over 20,000 coffee pods by Blue Goose Coffee and The Green Ring
  • 6 tonnes of used Vegware containers, cups and cutlery, from Recorra’s waste collections at catered offices in London
  • 25,000 caddy liners made from Novamont’s Mater-Bi
  • 9 pallets of compostable bags by Tipa for Le Col
  • 9 million sweet wrappers, aka 3 tonnes of NatureFlex cellulose film made by Futamura
  • Punnets & lids, and 1,000 tea sachets by Parkside Flexibles

Results of the trial will be announced in mid-2023. The compostable packaging materials are being included in EnVar’s normal in-vessel composting process, which produces PAS100-quality compost within 8 weeks. EnVar’s compost is used on UK farmers’ fields to help a variety of crops grow, benefitting from better soil structure.

“We see it as pivotal research to unlock widespread access into biowaste infrastructure for compostable packaging and prove that these materials are our future.”

Lex Thornely, Co-founder, Blue Goose Coffee

This composting trial is an activity of the Compostable Consortium UK, a multi-stakeholder initiative aimed at ensuring compostable packaging is effectively collected and organically recycled via existing UK bio-waste infrastructure.

This 2-year project brings Vegware together with compostables producers Tipa, Futamura and Biome Bioplastics, behaviour change experts from the University of Sheffield and Hubbub, and waste industry partners EnVar Composting, Recorra, REA and Recoup. The ‘Closing the Loop for Compostable Packaging’ project is funded by Innovate UK’s Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge fund.

Follow the Compostable Coalition UK on LinkedIn and at www.compostableUK.info for more updates on other parts of the project – behaviour change, autoclave trials, cost-benefit analyses and much more.

Keen to compost? Fill in our form which goes straight to Vegware’s in-house Environmental team.

Case studies – read the stories of caterers who are already composting used Vegware.