A few states are pioneering the rise of compostable packaging and building a composting infrastructure. World Centric‘s Resource Recovery Managers Erin Levine and Elly Ventura share the lessons the compostable packaging leader is learning as California, Colorado, and other states introduce composting and extended producer responsibility programs for fiber and plastic packaging.
Making packaging sustainable — whether it can be recycled conveniently or composted to return the material to nature without pollutants — is essential to reducing the 292 million tons of solid waste created annually in the U.S. as of 2018. Only 32% of that waste was recycled or composted. World Centric has stopped using PFAS, the controversial “forever chemicals” that make compost that includes food service items unusable in agriculture. The company is experimenting with new bio-based compostable plastics for use in cups and as liners in fiber bowls and takeout packaging.
Composting progress is a patchwork — while there are about 4,000 composting sites in the U.S., only about 10% of those programs offer industrial composting of packaging. California continues to expand its composting capacity after passing S.B. 1383, which calls for curbside pickup of food waste and compostable packaging across the state. On the other hand, Colorado recently proposed limiting composting to food waste — compostable packaging might not be processed in the state.
Packaging makers can help by designing products for recyclability and compostability and labeling products to help customers find responsible ways to dispose of them. Erin and Elly explain that standardizing labeling, especially by clearly indicating what materials require the higher temperatures achieved in industrial composting, will help consumers make better decisions when shopping. You can learn more about World Centric at worldcentric.com.