Why we focus on industrial, not home composting

At Vegware, we want to educate everyone about the importance of diverting food waste away from landfill.

Working closely with the composting sector since 2011, we know what a good, professional job they do. Within the Vegware team, we don’t all have gardens and green fingers – so we know that home composting can be hit-and-miss. That’s why we design Vegware for industrial composting and see home compostability is an added bonus for some of our products (Nourish, compostable bin liners and NatureFlex bags).

Here’s why we see industrial composting as a positive thing for the environment (plus we like the simplicity of entrusting this activity to professionals).

What is industrial composting?

Industrial composting – also known as commercial composting – happens at large-scale composting facilities in many parts of the world. These are businesses who transform large volumes of compostable materials, garden and food waste into compost.

As well as municipal garden waste, industrial composting facilities may handle food waste from restaurants, grocery, and other parts of the food industry. You can see the process in this video of EnVar’s composting facility near Cambridge UK, which we made about the Compostable Coalition UK’s 14-tonne trial of compostable packaging.

Microbial magic – meet the composting process

Moisture levels are carefully monitored, and the compost is turned or rotated regularly. The microbes, naturally present in the food and garden waste, break down the biowaste into compost. This microbial magic creates heat, which is why a happy compost pile may let off steam.

If a composting facility processes food waste, UK rules require the temperatures to hit at least 60°C for a set time, to pasteurise any toxins. That’s no problem for a well-managed steamy compost pile. (Incidentally, PLA starts to disintegrate at 58°C which is handy as these composting facilities are surpassing that anyway.)

The quality of the compost is important, as it’s destined for feeding fields. Many composting facilities in the UK work to the British Standards specification BSI PAS100, a quality management standard was established to ensuring compost production meet strict standards and testing procedures.

Benefits of industrial composting

There are so many!

  • Diverts waste from landfills: By composting organic waste instead, we can reduce the amount of waste going to landfills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Creates nutrient-rich compost: The end result of industrial composting is a nutrient-rich soil improver that is invaluable for gardening, landscaping, and agriculture.
  • Reduces the need for chemical fertilisers: By using compost instead of chemical fertilisers, we can reduce our reliance on petrochemical products.
  • Improves soil health: Compost can help improve soil health in a number of ways. It can help retain moisture, which can reduce the need for irrigation. It can also help regulate soil pH, making it easier for plants to absorb nutrients. In addition, compost can help improve soil structure, making it better for plant growth.
  • Supports local economies: Industrial composting can support local economies by creating jobs and generating revenue. Composting facilities require skilled workers to operate and maintain them, and the resulting compost can be sold to local farmers and gardeners, feeding into the circular economy.

Home composting

Composting at home is an excellent way to reduce waste and return carbon to the soil. However, not everyone has a garden, the time or know-how to compost successfully. Unlike industrial composting facilities which are carefully regulated, home composting varies with the gardener. For large scale food scraps, bioplastics, and organics diversion, industrial composting is the most sustainable and efficient end of life environment.

Some Vegware packaging is certified home compostable, including our Vegware Nourish moulded fibre and compostable bin liners. Whilst a green-fingered gardener may find success including Vegware products in their compost mix (especially the fibre stuff), Vegware only claims home compostability if the product has home certification.

Click here to start composting your Vegware.

Vegware products

All of our products are made from renewable, lower carbon, recycled or reclaimed materials. In their finished form, they can be all commercially composted with food waste, where accepted. We hold the sector’s most extensive set of compostability certification, which is an independent guarantee our products can be processed in the correct facilities. This is a major investment we believe is important to build trust and transparency.

How to compost used Vegware

We can advise on your composting options, from trade waste collections and Vegware’s own Close the Loop service to on-site composting and a UK-wide post-back service. No site is too big or too small for us to explore the possibilities. And we encourage customers who compost to offer bring-back schemes so you can capture used Vegware takeaways for composting.

Keen to compost?

For more composting stories, click here.