Researchers from Chaire CoPack, AgroParisTech and the University of Montpellier have conducted a study to validate that compostable bioplastics can biodegrade in industrial composting facilities.

The preliminary report of this study, which was shared by TotalEnergies Corbion, reveals that certified compostable food contact packaging can serve as a potential sustainable solution to manage waste in the food packaging industry.

The associated research was performed between October 2022 and February 2023. It was held in real industrial composting conditions, without the use of forced aeration.

TotalEnergies Corbion public affairs manager Paolo La Scola said: “The results send a strong signal to governments across Europe to grant certified compostable plastics access to biowaste collection and composting infrastructure. It’s necessary to reduce plastic waste mismanagement.”

During this four-month study, the researchers performed a composting test using 20 tonnes of food waste and bio-waste, which was collected from several households, as well as 323kg of assorted certified compostable packaging.

Simultaneously, a “control” compost test was also performed by the researchers without adding packaging.

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The test was monitored by researchers from the University of Montpellier and AgroParisTech in close coordination with Syndicat de Centre Héraut in Aspiran, which provided an industrial composting platform.

TotalEnergies Corbion also informed that this study assessed commercially available food packaging from the European market, including food trays, compostable bags, film and coffee pods.

All these products were manufactured using biodegradable and compostable resins such as polylactic acid (PLA), polybutylene adipate terephthalate (PBAT) and complexed starch.

The products were provided by the members of the French Association of Biobased Compostables, including TotalEnergies Corbion and Novamont.

After completing regular checks and collecting samples, the test results proved that the addition of certified compostable packaging “positively affected the composting yield” and the tested materials “fully met the decay rate requirements of compostability standards”.

La Scola added: “It is essential that all stakeholders along the value chain cooperate for the recognition of the benefits of compostable packaging in separate collection and recycling of food waste.”