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Compostable Packaging

Jun. 10, 2024

Compostable Packaging

As citizens, brands, consumers, and policymakers become more conscious of waste and pollution, many (including us!) are working hard to figure out what &#;optimal&#; packaging looks like from the planet's perspective and its inhabitants' health.

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Over the past few years, the recycling industry has hit some significant roadblocks - the most notable being the China Sword policy implemented in which severely restricted what recycled inputs China would be willing to purchase. This, coupled with dubious marketing practices by the fossil fuel industry to perpetuate the myth that all plastics are recyclable when only PE and PET are very readily recyclable in the US, has cast doubt on recycling broadly.

Within this broader context, it isn&#;t surprising that the idea of &#;compostable&#; has developed a bit of a halo around it. Brands and consumers have this innate sense that compostable packaging might be a silver-bullet solution to curing all of the evils of packaging, the challenges of recyclability, and plastic packaging in particular. We often see misleading branding copy like &#;this compostable packaging will disappear&#; or &#;compost me so I can become worm food&#; that spreads this way of thinking.

EcoEnclose is in a unique position in the world of packaging providers as we can design and develop any type of packaging. We can create compostable mailers, recyclable mailers, degradable mailers, and dissolvable mailers with any existing or innovative new material. The only real guardrail we have in designing our packaging is our sustainability vision and framework: Does this new potential packaging solution bring us closer to our vision for sustainability and circularity?

Every year, we use this lens to research and understand the pros and cons of designing packaging for compostability. If our analysis leads to a new conclusion that compostable packaging would lead to positive environmental progress, we would quickly begin offering compostable mailing solutions.

However, our research has always led to the same conclusion - most packaging should not be designed to be composted. Instead, most packaging should be designed to be readily recycled. And while we need to invest in improving this nation&#;s recycling infrastructure and supply chain, the current foundation is strong for PE, PET, paper, corrugate, aluminum, and (in some regions) glass.

This year, this decision and its issues have hit remarkably close to home for us at EcoEnclose.

We&#;ve watched packaging wreak havoc on Colorado&#;s primary industrial composting facility for the past six months, leading them to make the drastic decision last month to accept food and yard waste only going forward.

This means Coloradoans can no longer compost paper towels, tissue, coffee filters, etc. While this is a significant shift for us regionally, it is a nationwide trend for early-adopter composting communities that made forays into accepting packaging (the vast majority of composters nationwide have never accepted packaging). Oregon composters banned all bioplastics in , citing how problematic compostable plastics have been for them.

Programs in California, Seattle, and Vermont are also starting to restrict collections of compostable organic materials to food scraps and yard trimmings only.

A Better (Trash) Bag

When it comes to trash bags, there&#;s plenty of confusing verbiage. Compostable? Biodegradable? Bags with post-consumer recycled content? While one could certainly make the argument that biodegradable and compostable trash bags aren&#;t worth the money since they&#;re headed to the landfill anyway (those pits aren&#;t vegetable gardens, after all); the more cynical amongst us could say there&#;s no such thing as an eco-friendly trash bag if it holds bad-for-the-planet waste.

The goal is certainly to reduce the amount of trash sent to the landfill each week, but the reality is that most of us generate waste. And while purchasing eco-friendly-ish trash bags doesn&#;t give us carte blanche to throw away as much as we want, buying the right bags is a simple and accessible lifestyle switch. On today&#;s show I&#;m divulging what to know (and which trash bags to buy) moving forward.

 

Goto HuaWei to know more.

Here&#;s a preview:

[3:15] Are biodegradable trash bags eco-friendly? (What does &#;biodegradable&#; even mean?)

[6:00] Everything you need to know about compostable trash bags: pros, cons, and everything in between

[16:00] Breaking down (see what I did there?) all-things plastic bags with post-consumer recycled content

[22:00] Stephanie&#;s handy-dandy rubric to assess your trash bag purchases moving forward

 

Resources mentioned:

  • Green Polly trash bags made of recycled content
  • HoldOn compostable trash bags (Want 15% off? Use code SUSTAINABLE)
  • Episode #277: All-Things Eggs

 

 

 

 

If you are looking for more details, kindly visit custom compostable bags.

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