Plastics in the Bioeconomy is the first published research into the current state of the UK’s compostable packaging market, as well as its growth potential.
Estimates indicate that there are approximately 10,000 tonnes of compostable packaging on the UK market at present, which is less than 1 per cent of all consumer plastic packaging.
However, the Plastics in the Bioeconomy report has found that there is potential for this figure to increase tenfold to over 100,000 tonnes by 2025.
Biome Bioplastics believes this projected growth is driven by the need for compostable packaging to package food items, plastics bags to hold food waste and food-contaminated convenience goods.
The report also outlines how compostable plastics can help achieve the ambitious targets of the UK Plastics Pact, specifically that 100 per cent of plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
Paul Mines, the CEO of Biome Bioplastics, said: “It’s now over a year since WRAP announced ambitious targets for changes in plastic packaging in the UKPP. If 70 per cent of this packaging is to be effectively recycled or composted by 2025, there is a mountain to climb. Only approximately 14 per cent of the total plastic packaging put onto the market in the UK is reprocessed and once contaminated material is deducted no more than 10 per cent is effectively recycled in the UK itself. In fact, 60 per cent is not even collected for recycling and simply landfilled or incinerated instead, while an unquantified amount leaks into the environment.”
“We need to change the way we specify and manage packaging. While recycling of conventional plastics will be part of the answer, ‘Plastics in the Bioeconomy’ highlights that, over the next five years, some 7 per cent of the solution could come from bio-based compostable plastics.”
Commenting on the study and the role compostable packaging has in the overall packaging mix, he added:
“While compostable bags do biodegrade quicker in natural environments compared to other plastics, the industry has always maintained that they aren’t meant to be discarded in such a manner. Compostable plastics are material that can enable a bio-based circular economy within specific applications and are designed to compost at the end of life in industrial and/or home composting systems, I cannot stress this enough.”