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Partnership delivers fresh compostable packaging directions

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), the Australasian Bioplastics Association (ABA) and the Australian Organics Recycling Association (AORA) have partnered to produce a guideline to help businesses make better choices about using compostable packaging.

The launch of Considerations for Compostable Packaging, was launched to industry via a webinar yesterday, May 6. It also comes within International Compost Awareness Week Australia (ICAW), which aims to lift awareness of the value of compost and promote its use, knowledge and products.

Growing confusion
According to APCO CEO, Brooke Donnelly, the compostable market is growing yet causing real confusion for both industry and end consumers. She believes that the guideline will aid industry professionals to decide when and where to use certified compostable plastic packaging and associated items like cutlery.

“With brands facing intense consumer pressure to move away from plastics, along with thousands of Australian food outlets turning to takeaway packaging formats for the first time, there’s never been a more important time for businesses to receive accurate and consistent information about compostable packaging,” Donnelly explained.

“Compostable plastics currently account for around 0.1% of plastic packaging on market in Australia. Yet we know that it is a market that is growing and one that causes real confusion – for both industry and end consumers,” she added.

Key applications
Based on the systems and infrastructure currently available, the guideline identifies the key potential applications and opportunities for certified compostable plastic packaging, with a strong emphasis on packaging that could also facilitate the collection of food waste. These include food caddy liners, fruit and vegetable stickers and ‘closed-loop’ situations, such as festivals.

Recommendations are provided about how to correctly communicate with end consumers, including accurate certification and correct language for labelling and marketing.

Statements to avoid are also highlighted, including the misleading terminology and greenwashing claims that are currently contributing to unintentional litter and contamination of the mechanical recycling system.

Value chain
Australasian Bioplastics Association, president, Rowan also explained that the guidelines look up and down the value chain, at where the raw material comes from and also where the finished packaging will go to, such as organics recycling, in the future.

“The ABA, as custodian of the only verification scheme for claims of certified compostability to the Australian Standards, welcomes the advent of the guidelines and looks forward to continuing collaboration with APCO, AORA and industry stakeholders”.

AORA chair, Peter Wadewitz said that AORA supports the use of AS4736 certified materials for the source separation of food waste in the home or in commercial settings.

“It is a suitable alternative to non-recyclable packaging. Compostable coffee cups, capsules and compostable bags can all be successfully utilised through normal organic recycling processes, without concern of contamination”.