COOKIES This site uses cookies to enhance your website experience COOKIES

Are you sure?

Are you sure? If you change your country now, any items you have added to your quote will disappear.

have been added to your quote request

View Quote

have been added to your cart.

View Cart

Change your location

Please set your location to see relevant pricing, stock levels, freight costs and taxes.

Please enter a valid postcode

News

Cut the rubbish: Common sustainable packaging terms

It is easy to feel lost in a tirade of sustainable packaging terms. We know customers want to do the right thing in choosing sustainable packaging, but it can be difficult to know the difference between a product claiming it is biodegradable, compostable, degradable or recyclable.

We are here to cut the rubbish on common sustainable packaging terms and what these end of life options actually mean for our environment.

Biodegradable

Biodegradation is a natural process in which materials are transformed into substances of water, carbon and biomass with the help of microorganisms.

However, there is no length of time that a biodegradable packaging product  is required to break down in order to claim biodegradability.

Unless paired with additional information about the timeframe and environment the packaging material can biodegrade in, as well as certificates or test results, biodegradability can be a vague or misleading claim.

There is currently no overarching standard to back up claims about biodegradability1.

Image of biodegradable packaging which has not broken down in environment

Compostable

This is one of the most confusing packaging terms. We’ve broken this definition into three types of “compostable”.

  1. Industrial compostable - In accordance with Australian Standards AS4736–2006 or EU standard EN13432, these products require industrial composting conditions to break down. Limited infrastructure means these products often go to landfill and generate methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times^ more potent than carbon dioxide.
  2. Home compostable - AS 5810–2010: This is a voluntary certification launched by the Australasian Bioplastics Association2. To be home compostable packaging has to biologically decompose in a composting system within a defined period of time. It must also meet quality criteria in ecotoxicity3.
  3. Plastic free – Recycle first, compost second: Food packaging made from paper or board which is plastic free does not have to be certified. Wherever possible this packaging should be recycled to allow the valuable paper fibres to live again, however if there is a high level of food contamination it can be composted.

Read more about composting related specifically to takeaway cups.

Compostable cups sitting on a beach

Degradable
Degradable refers to a packaging product designed to break down to an unspecified extent, usually in an unspecified time and in an unspecified end environment. This term is vague and is not necessarily a sustainable option because of concerns with microplastics in the environment.

Recyclable
Packaging or a packaging component4 is recyclable where the components or resources used in that product can live again. This includes where item can be recovered and sorted in a stream where at least 70% of its weight can be recycled into another product.


Part of this definition includes at least 80% of the overall population has convenient access to a service that collects the packaging or packaging component, kerbside recycling in Australia is an example of wide access to collection.

Image of bales of cardboard

We champion recycling as the ultimate environmental option for single use packaging, and innovate our products to allow them to live again as part of a circular economy.

Talking specifically about takeaway cups, the RecycleMe™ System allows the high-quality paper fibre to be saved and recycled into paper products that can be recycled up to 7 times, offering a true solution and diverting cups from landfill.

Or some of our other sustainable options in cartons and tray include our Endura or Go Range

Keep up to date by signing up for Cut the Rubbish updates.

 

1https://www.european-bioplastics.org/glossary/
2https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2018/11/are-bioplastics-made-from-plants-better-for-environment-ocean-plastic/
^ https://phys.org/news/2017-12-truth-bioplastics.html
3https://www.nationalgeographic.org/find-explorers/jenna-romness-jambeck
4http://www.helenlewisresearch.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Compostable-DSMG-082013.pdf

SUBSCRIBE AND STAY INFORMED

Receive the latest in products, trends, news, events and tips.

Subscribe

* = mandatory field