Fighting the war on waste with compostable packaging

by Tiffany Paczek
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A recent War On Waste episode broadcast by the ABC has thrust Australia’s waste management crisis further into the spotlight, lifting the lid on the volume of food and organic waste that ends up in landfill – a hefty 60 percent of household waste is reported in the episode.

Australians and consumers in general opt for convenience in favour of sustainability on a daily basis. The result? A global plastic pollution crisis of unprecedented scale with single-use plastics and coffee cups at the centre of media, consumer and policy-maker attention.

Media attention has influenced a rise in cup-only collections. But this is a temporary fix to our waste problem. The infrastructure required to collect a single item creates a burden on an already stretched recycling industry, and the trucks and specialised factories emit more carbon – cancelling out the benefits. Ultimately, these reclaimed resources are either downcycled or sent to landfill.

In the third and final episode, Craig Reucassel investigates organics waste collection as a viable solution for diverting waste from landfill, reducing methane gas emissions, recovering resources to generate economic value and creating jobs. Composting is essential to winning the war on waste, and it isn’t just good for the environment – it’s good for the economy, too.

The episode highlights Kiama High School’s efforts to reduce waste by introducing BioPak compostable packaging as a more sustainable option for single-use disposables in the school canteen. Reucassel shows a BioCup (plant-based bioplastic cup), which can be thrown in the compost with other food scraps and organic waste.

The people behind BioPak say, “We believe compostable foodservice packaging is part of the solution. But not all councils offer commercial composting so, we launched the BioPak Compost Service – to ensure our cups and takeaway packaging, along with food scraps and organic waste, are diverted from landfill to commercial composting facilities.”

War On Waste has always encouraged Australians to be conscious of their consumption habits and take matters into their own hands, rather than rely on governments to clean up the public’s act. In a recent ‘War On Waste’ Q&A episode, Recaussel says, “I think it’s a bit hypocritical to kind of go, ‘Government, you sort it out. I won’t change until you do it’.”

While public policymakers are still trying to assess what’s wrong with recycling programs, large corporations and small entrepreneurs alike are in the best position to take the lead. The BioPak Compost Service is an example of taking matters into our own hands and proving the model can scale. In the first six months since the launch, the service has been rolled out across 1300 suburbs in nine major cities in Australia and New Zealand and diverted 90 tonnes of waste from landfill in six months.

So what are the benefits of composting, exactly?

  • BioPak cups and takeaway packaging can be composted along with food scraps – all in one bin, no separation required
  • switching to composting also saves on your general waste bills – cheaper than the landfill levy
  • it diverts organic waste from landfill and eliminate the associated methane emissions
  • composting supports the circular economy – it returns nutrients to the soil
  • compost doesn’t just benefit the environment, our farmers need high-quality compost to grow our food locally – it reduces the need for synthetic fertilisers and improves the quality of the soil, and
  • BioPak compostable packaging is made from rapidly renewable sustainably sourced materials – it’s not derived from finite oil resources like conventional plastic.

Lead image: Cali Press café and its food scraps and organic waste bin. Image courtesy of BioPak.

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