The UK government should make food waste collections obligatory in order to allow more compostable packaging to be recycled, according to an industry trade body.
Responding to this week’s Footprint’s investigation that showed compostable straws were not actually being composted, David Newman, managing director of the Bio-based and Biodegradable Industries Association (BBIA), said a nationwide collection system is needed to get materials to plants cleanly, regularly and in volumes that ensure a critical mass is acquired to enable the process to function.
“Food waste collections cover less than half the UK population and are often of very poor quality and full of plastic contamination,” said Newman. “The real challenge is in making food waste collections ubiquitous, high quality and regular; then compostable packaging would have a route back to recycling and enable our society to reduce plastic waste and increase the amount of wasted food we return to soil as compost.”
Footprint found that although a host of companies are pledging to move away from plastic-straws to compostable or biodegradable alternatives, the volume of commitments exceeds the capacity of the current waste infrastructure to deal with them.
Newman, whose body represents companies producing bio-based and biodegradable products, said that packaging products should be recyclable, meaning existing technologies could return the material to a useful new material at a cost which allows it to enter the marketplace.
He also stated that plants recycling these materials should not only exist but effectively be able to receive and treat the materials.
And he called on the government to use its forthcoming Resource and Waste Strategy to make the necessary changes to the UK’s waste infrastructure to support recycling.