Why Choose Compostable Packaging?
Why Choose Compostable Packaging? A Sustainable Solution
But the success of any off-premise dining program depends heavily on how the food items are packaged. Can the packaging retain the quality of your menu items? Does it reflect your business values? And what do your customers prefer?
Compostable packaging stands as a great alternative to single-use plastics and foam. In this article, we will explore why including:
- The environmental impact of single-use plastic packaging
- Health and safety considerations
- How compostable products break down
- The benefits to business
- What to look for in compostable packaging
The Environmental Impact of Single-Use Plastic Packaging
From the beginning of its lifecycle to the end, plastic and foam packaging wreak havoc on our planet.
The production of traditional plastic depletes large amounts of fossil fuels and finite resources like oil, coal, and natural gas. During the production process, ethane and propane are often produced through cracking. This releases hazardous waste and methane into the atmosphere, further contributing to the greenhouse gas crisis.
While we produce 300 million tons of plastic each year, half of which is for single-use items, only 9% is recycled. What’s not recycled ends up in landfills, waterways, or is burned. It also breaks into smaller pieces called microplastics, increasing soil pollution and making it easier to spread.
Compostable packaging on the other hand, is made from materials like bamboo, sugarcane, and corn; renewable resources and agricultural byproducts that are already being produced.
Corn, wheat straw, bamboo, cellulose, and sugarcane are just a few examples of renewable resources used to create compostable packaging materials. These are sustainable resources that are widely grown across the globe.
Another key advantage of compostable packaging versus foam and plastic packaging is its eco-friendly production process. Compostables require less energy to make and don’t expose workers to harmful chemicals like in traditional plastic manufacturing.
By using compostable materials, businesses support local composting initiatives and waste diversion programs. These initiatives reduce organic waste going to landfills and incinerators which helps lessen the strain on waste management and promotes a circular economy in communities. For more information on creating a circular economy, check out the video below.
Health and Safety Considerations
Traditional food packaging holds many toxins that can leach into food and have been linked to health issues, including cancer.
The leaching process is accelerated at higher temperatures which is why it’s not recommended to heat leftovers in plastic packaging in the microwave.
In contrast, compostable packaging is a safer alternative, not only for the environment but for humans as well. It is designed to be free from harmful chemicals like PFAS making it a great option for food and beverages. This includes food being reheated in compostable containers!
How Compostable Products Break Down
Compostable packaging is designed to break down completely in a commercial facility in 90-180 days. Comparatively, traditional plastics can exist in the soil or water for hundreds if not thousands of years.
During this time, plastic containers leach harmful chemicals and break down into microplastics. Microplastics are nearly impossible to remove from the environment where they accumulate. They also pose physical and toxicological risks to marine and wildlife.
In contrast, compostable materials are designed to break down to feed microorganisms, including bacteria and fungi, creating nutrient rich soil. This soil can be used in agriculture or gardening to grow new produce and plants.
Compostable packaging offers a hassle-free disposal process. Unlike traditional plastics, which often end up in landfills or oceans, compostable materials can be integrated into composting systems, benefitting both households and businesses.
Simply add compostable packaging alongside food scraps and lawn clippings to your collection bin or home compost pile*. Use our Find A Composter tool to find a collection service near you.
The Benefits to Business
In addition to environmental and health benefits, choosing compostable packaging allows consumers to support sustainable businesses that align with their values.
According to Technomic, 71% of consumers say it is important for restaurants to use environmentally-friendly disposable packaging. What’s more, 70% of millennials and 72% of Gen Z adults said they’d be willing to pay extra for to-go orders to cover the cost of upgraded packaging according to the National Restaurant Association.
Consumers are demanding more environmentally-responsible packaging and businesses that lead the way will benefit.
While compostable packaging may be slightly more expensive than plastic and foam packaging, it offers long-term health and environmental advantages.
Furthermore, when operators choose compostable packaging, this signals demand in the market which drives innovation and competition. Over time, this will lead to a decrease in prices as more options become available. For example, the cost of residential solar has come down by over 50% in the last decade!
Many sustainable businesses pride themselves in supporting their communities. They often participate in local composting and sustainability programs as well as give their time volunteering to different local organizations to help give back.
Opting for compostable packaging creates a shift towards sustainability, inspiring other businesses to follow suit.
What To Look For in Compostable Packaging
Many manufacturers of compostable packaging invest in third-party certifications to verify the environmental claims of their products and stay transparent about what they sell. Those who don’t may be lying or exaggerating about how eco-friendly their product or services are.
When choosing compostable packaging, look for certifications like BPI Certified, CMA Certified, and OK Compost Certified. These certifications ensure products will break down as intended without harming the soil.
Also, try samples of the products you’re interested in! See them, touch them, and make sure they perform for your business and your customers.
A Compostable Conclusion
Compostable packaging is not just a product but a commitment to the environment and sustainability. Each decision to embrace compostable packaging sends a message of dedication to protecting the planet.
Reducing plastic pollution, minimizing carbon footprints, mitigating health and safety issues, and creating a greener future are just a few of the incredible reasons to choose compostable.
Together, we can make a difference, one responsible choice at a time.
*Compostable packaging is commercially compostable or home and commercially compostable. Commercial compost facilities may not exist in your area.