UK’s first compostable packaging recycling service launched

Recycling firm First Mile will offer the UK’s first dedicated compostable recycling packaging service for businesses, which they hope will cut down on compostable packaging which can damage existing recycling streams.

Compostable coffee cups, food packaging, drinks containers and bags are in increasing use, but First Mile says they can be ‘problematic’ to dispose of because compostable materials require very specific environments to successfully decompose and can cause more environmental harm than good if they end up in the wrong place.

Compostable means that a product is capable of disintegrating into natural elements in a compost environment, without toxicity in the soil.

Items are often mistakenly put in general waste, where if sent to landfill they will give off methane as they degrade, or wrongly added to mixed recycling, where they contaminate other materials. Many people also incorrectly assume that compostable packaging can be added to their food waste recycling, but again, this will contaminate the waste stream as the conditions required for compostable packaging to decompose are very different to those of food waste.

Founder and CEO, Bruce Bratley, said ‘There’s been a significant increase in the amount of compostable packaging being used by sustainability-savvy businesses, but these items need to be processed properly to provide any environmental benefits.

‘We’re pleased to be able to offer this new service, where customers will be able to simply place their compostable packaging in one of our dedicated First Mile bags for collection, safe in the knowledge that their actions will make a difference.’

Last week, the University of Plymouth published research that questioned how good for the environment compostable, biodegradable or oxo-degradable bags are for the environment.
Daphna Nissenbaum, CEO of compostable bag company TIPA wrote in Environment Journal how the study caused some confusion, with some members of the public not understanding the difference between the three.

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