What is compostable packaging?
Quite simply, compostable packaging is packaging which is made from plant-based, recycled materials which, when processed correctly, can be returned to earth as compost or soil improver. It provides an environmentally friendly alternative to single use plastic.
How is compostable packaging processed?
We use industry-leading in-vessel composting technology and ever-evolving processes developed over more than 30 years to process organic waste in the most efficient, safe, cost effective and sustainable manner to produce a high-quality end soil improver. Our flagship Cambridge site utilises a computer-controlled double-ended batch tunnel in-vessel system, capable of safely composting all manner of materials including compostable packaging.
Compostable packaging, food waste, green waste and specific organic waste collected from homes and businesses is delivered to our site in Cambridgeshire. This waste is then shredded and blended to produce a homogeneous mix for composting. Blended material is loaded into the in-vessel bunker system, which features an aeration system, temperature control and wireless data logging probes to decompose it in a controlled manner which meets EU composting standards.
The system processes the waste in a fully-enclosed computer-controlled environment. Once the tunnels of the in-vessel bunker system are filled and the doors are closed, fans blow air through the perforated floors of the tunnels. The air passes through the composting material and is re-circulated within the tunnels. When the oxygen level within the tunnel drops below a minimum set level, fresh air is drawn in, allowing very tight control of oxygen levels and temperature within the material.
Following the in-vessel stage is the stabilisation phase where the compost is arranged in rows and turned on a regular basis with a dedicated turner. After 6 to 8 weeks the material is ready for screening into a peat free high quality PAS 100 compost.
Collection of compostable packaging waste
Our sister company Countrystyle Recycling offers a collection service around East Anglia and the South East and we work in partnership with waste management companies to service other areas in the UK.
Working with compostable packaging producers
We have an extremely close relationship with compostable packaging manufacturers and innovators to provide a dedicated closed loop solution for the successful composting of this material and participate in joint initiatives to reduce contamination through this new waste stream.
Closing the loop for compostable packaging
Envar are working with Compostable Coalition UK, a multi stakeholder initiative aimed at assuring compostable packaging is effectively collected and organically recycled via existing UK bio-waste infrastructure.
The Compostable Coalition UK: Closing the loop for compostable packaging is a first of its kind project backed by UK Research & Innovation’s (UKRI) flagship £60 million Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge.
Envar successfully processes compostable packaging alongside our existing food and garden waste streams. We welcome our involvement in this project and look forward to helping produce new data sets to evidence the benefits of this process, to secure the continued support for compostable materials from our industry and Government partners.
For further information about the coalition visit https://compostableuk.info
Case Study – Closing the Loop
Providing a recycling solution for compostable packaging in Cambridge city centre
Many food retailers in Cambridge city centre use compostable packaging for their takeaway meals however without having the appropriate bins and waste collection this packaging was going to landfill.
Envar and Countrystyle Recycling, in partnership with Cambridge BID have come up with a solution. Four new public bins have been installed specifically for food waste and compostable packaging, providing a much-needed solution for recycling compostable food packaging and food waste in the city centre.
Countrystyle will collect the waste and take it to Envar’s in-vessel composting facility where it will be processed to create compost.
We only process the following compostable products that conform to the criteria within BS EN 13432, BS EN 14995 and ASTM D6400 certifications.
Below is a list of the compostable products we are able process.
- Biodegradable Polymers
- Other products made of such material