*This compostable packaging post is a collaboration

When it comes to packaging these days, sustainability is a real priority for consumers and so, in turn, for brands too. Consumers want to be able to make more sustainable choices when it comes to the products we purchase, and this starts with brands recognising this and making conscious decisions to give us those opportunities.

Slowly but surely, we are seeing a real movement towards sustainable packaging. Whether that’s recycled plastics or the introduction of the plastic packaging tax, it’s all big steps in the right direction. You may have also heard of compostable packaging. It’s still a fairly young innovation and it’s not the cheapest choice for brands, but it is a wonderful packaging solution that contributes towards a circular economy.

What is compostable packaging?

Commonly used for food packaging, compostable packaging is, well, compostable! It’s similar to biodegradable packaging, however, it is better for the environment. This is because biodegradable packaging does still contain some ingredients and materials that aren’t great for the environment. The difference with compostable packaging is that it is totally natural, so when it breaks down, it benefits the environment.

Compostable packaging is made up of a combination of various recycled, plant-based recyclable materials. These commonly include wood, pulp, potato starch, bagasse, cotton, palm leaves and fungi. As these ingredients are totally safe, they can be used in soil as a nutrient-rich compost.

Ok, so how does that work?

So, how do you get from your food packaging to a nutrient-rich compost? For compostable packaging to start breaking down, it needs a certain type of environment. A compost bin is the best place for this. It provides warm temperatures, moisture, oxygen and nutrients, which is exactly what this sustainable form of packaging needs.

In these conditions, microorganisms will thrive and begin to consume the materials. This process takes a while - usually around 12 weeks. You’ll know when your compost is ready to be used as it will resemble dark, crumbly topsoil with an earthy odour. If it smells a bit sour, it needs longer to develop. You also shouldn’t be able to see any of the original materials that you added.

If you are unsure, test the compost by putting a handful in a sealed plastic bag. Leave it for three days and then check its smell again. Once you have that earthy odour, it’s time to use it on your soil.

Benefits of compostable packaging

There are many benefits of utilising a more environmentally-friendly packaging. In fact, it doesn’t really have any downsides! Here are a few of the main benefits:

  • 100% environmentally friendly
  • Helps to promote biodiversity by supporting an important ecosystem
  • Reduces waste and the reliance on landfills
  • Captures and destroy 99.9% of chemicals in contaminated air
  • Reduces carbon footprint
  • Provides nutrients for soil and acts as a natural fertiliser

The benefits of compostable packaging are plentiful for both brands and consumers. It can be incredibly rewarding for both your moral compass and your own carbon footprint, but more importantly for the environment. While compostable packaging is not yet all that common, the more we take notice and invest in it, the more available and affordable it will become.