The Packaging Forum in New Zealand has released the results of a detailed survey conducted by specialist consultancy Beyond the Bin to analyse composting facilities’ experiences in processing food packaging including coffee cups.
The survey included 27 New Zealand-based composting facilities, 11 of which have agreed to be listed as accepting compostable food packaging, and an additional two of which are able to do so.
Around seven of these facilities are currently piloting processing systems to accept compostable cups and other compostable packaging waste.
The survey coverage varies with North Island facilities identified in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, New Plymouth, Hawkes Bay and Wellington, and South Island facilities situated in Tasman and Kaikoura.
Packaging Forum Public Place Recycling Scheme manager Lyn Mayes said: “The industry has seen a significant growth in the volume of compostable cups and with this confusion as to whether, where and how they can be composted.
“We commissioned Beyond the Bin to assess the range of cups on the market; survey facilities about whether they can process compostable cups; identify the barriers and make recommendations as to how these can be resolved.
“Based on the information supplied by our members, the compostable coffee cups in the New Zealand market have similar specifications and are typically certified to the EN13432 (Commercial compost European standard).”
Beyond the Bin director Kim Renshaw identified that the facilities are subjected to various challenges, such as contamination, lack of identification, higher processing time and organic input restrictions.
Renshaw said: “The Packaging Forum with its members can help solve these issues by creating an identification and standard for cups and innovating product design to reduce the length of processing times.”
Mayes stated that the forum has already started to change its funding criteria this year so that applicants must provide evidence that they will separate packaging waste during or after events.
Its members will also be working with community composting service providers to deliver local solutions.
The forum has also started a discussion with the Waste Management Institute New Zealand to set an identification standard that will ensure consistency and increase the likelihood of acceptance.