Saturday, November 30, 2013

Keep Compostables Clear of Recyclables

More and more compostable packaging is being used by businesses and consumers. That's a good thing. Mixing compostable plastic into a waste stream designed for recycled plastic is not so good however. People in the plastics business, especially the recycled plastics industry are working hard to stay ahead of the curve. PlasticsNews recently published this article "Compostable plastics may help boost cities' food-waste programs".  Imagine a plastic banding strap holding a pallet of barrels together. The last thing you want is compostable plastic (designed to compost and biodegrade) to end up in that strap. On the flip side, you don't want a green washed PlantBottle that was actually designed for recycling, to end up in a compost system. The labeling makes it easy to get confused.

Make sure you and your customers have an easy way to keep compostable plastics, out of your recycled plastics waste stream. We've written about this in the past, and will post some new guides in the near future. Until then, keep it simple. Switch your disposable packaging to compostables in groups, like all your cups, all your cutlery, etc. That way you can have clear signage with pictures showing:
Compostables
Recyclables
Waste/Landfill

If you can afford to take the plunge, make all your plates, cups, napkins, straws, and utensils compostable and show them in your signs. That way your customer knows to toss most everything into the "Compostables" bin, and "Recyclables" can be for cans and bottles.