Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about the packaging around the items they buy. High profile coverage of disposed plastic and the dangers to wildlife as it enters the world’s oceans mean consumers are placing more importance on eco-friendly packaging. Businesses realise they have a degree of responsibility to be greener and operate in a more sustainable manner. Just as the homeowner is expected to recycle more, they will also expect better packaging options from the businesses they buy from, allowing them to choose environmentally friendly packaging, including compostable packaging.
What Does Compostable Mean?
The main difference of a material being compostable, as opposed to biodegradable, is it provides valuable nutrients as it breaks down. Compostable packaging is made from plant-based, sustainably sourced materials which do not release toxins as they break down, making them a more environmentally friendly option. The nutrients provided can be composted into farm grade soil in a commercial compost system to retain the value of the the materials in the waste stream and provide a great resource for the agricultural industry.
How does Compostable Packaging Help the Environment?
Using compostable material means it can be broken down safely, without releasing any toxins but releasing important nutrients back to the soil. This returning of nutrients to improve and fertilise soil is a key attraction and environmental benefit, along with less carbon required during its production. Another benefit of using ensuring that any compostable packaging products go to a composting facility is that the waste itself has been diverted from landfill. For the consumer, they will be happy in the knowledge their compostable cups will not be adding to the further damage of our precious eco-systems.
Why Should Your Business Use Compostable Products?
The key issue is this is becoming a consumer driven necessity, which ultimately affects revenue and profits. As consumers look to choose sustainable compostable food and beverage packaging over less eco-friendly packaging options, businesses who are slow to react to the demand will suffer. Indeed, figures from the USA indicate businesses believe operating with such an environmentally friendly approach was positive for their finances.
However, there is more a business can benefit by using compostable materials in their packaging than just the bottom line. They can operate in the knowledge they are doing their fair share in trying to use materials which reduces carbon production and also conserves natural resources by using rapidly renewable resources instead of finite fossil fuels. A business can also be pleased it is doing its bit in not sending more packaging to landfill and helping reduce pollution levels in the groundwater, soil and air.
How to Dispose of Compostable Material
Much of the packaging marked compostable should end up at an industrial composting site where it will quickly break down depending on the size and type of material involved. This result helps retain the value in the material itself and contributes to a circular transfer of value. The soil produced from commercial composting can be used to help farmers grow more materials, like trees and sugarcane, that can be refined again to create more compostable packaging.
As consumers look for responsible brands to buy their goods and services from, it makes more sense commercially to use sustainable products such as compostable coffee cups as takeaway options. For now this may cost a little more, but by making customers aware, by promoting the fact you are a business using environmentally friendly packaging, conscious of the need for more sustainable materials, then consumers should respond. Ultimately you will still be able to say you are doing your bit as a business to help preserve our environment for the future.