Compostable packaging could solve packaging crisis: MP survey

Jessica Paige 11 March 2020 (Last Updated March 11th, 2020 18:57)

Results from a survey conducted last month revealed that 98% of UK members of parliament (MPs) from Westminster parties agree that compostable packaging could be part of the solution to the UK’s plastic crisis.

Compostable packaging could solve packaging crisis: MP survey
Almost all of those surveyed believe that compostable materials can help solve UK’s issues with plastic pollution, with 1% disagreeing and 1% replying that they did not know.

Results from a survey conducted last month revealed that 98% of UK members of parliament (MPs) from Westminster parties agree that compostable packaging could be part of the solution to the UK’s plastic crisis.

The survey was conducted last month by London-based market research agency Survation. It polled 100 of 650 MPs, 50% of whom were Conservatives, 32% Labour, and 11% SNP. Representatives from the Liberal Democrats, DUP, Sinn Féin and Plaid Cymru were also included.

Almost all of those surveyed believe that compostable materials can help solve UK’s issues with plastic pollution, with 1% disagreeing and 1% replying that they did not know.

Results of the poll also revealed that 86% of MPs believe that the UK government should invest more in infrastructure to deal with compostable materials.

The poll results come at a time where many businesses are making the switch from plastic to compostable alternatives to combat plastic pollution. Not all businesses, however, believe that compostable materials are the answer.

UK-based grooming company Men-U founder Graham Fish told Packaging Gateway: “Plastic waste is not the only material harming the environment, but things like bioplastics from sugar cane are leading to deforestation in Brazil. Bioplastic, if it gets into landfill, has a high methane level. There are a number of issues that need to be clarified and I don’t see the answers coming from the industry.”

Scotland-based circular economy specialist Reath Box co-founder Claire Rampen told Packaging Gateway: “While compostable packaging has great potential, it cannot be seen as a silver bullet solution. Access to composting infrastructure in the UK is not widespread. A WRAP 2019 report highlighted that only 51% of UK households have access to home composting facilities and the UK does not have an industrial composting facility in every region. 

“A compostable packaging provider I spoke to estimates that only 5% of their packaging ends up composted, meaning 95% of it ends up in landfill, where it may never break down, or it could emit methane, a greenhouse gas that is 84 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Until we have the infrastructure to process compostable packaging, it is irresponsible to tout it as the perfect solution.”

A report released by UK-based think tank Green Alliance this week also claimed that the UK Government is focusing too much on making businesses switch materials and not enough on tackling the UK’s “throw-away habit”. The report highlighted that a poor infrastructure and waste system means that compostable packaging could be ineffective.