We use compostable, plant based packaging by Vegware in our café and deli. It’s a darn sight better than oil-based plastic packaging, and since introducing it we have saved the equivalent carbon emissions of 4 flights from London to Paris!
Vegware established its headquarters in Edinburgh in 2006, and is now supplying businesses across the UK and beyond. Its products are made from renewable or recycled materials, are completely compostable after use and can be recycled with food waste. However, they cannot be recycled with your food waste collections in Bristol.
Why can’t Vegware be recycled?
In Bristol our food waste is delivered to Geneco in Avonmouth where it is anaerobically digested into methane gas and a solid fertilizer referred to as ‘cake’. Anaerobic digestion (AD) is the breakdown of organic material by micro-organisms in the absence of oxygen. At Geneco the AD produces methane that is fed directly into the domestic gas network, and a digestate that is a source of nutrients is used locally as a fertiliser.
We have spoken with Bristol Waste to dig a little deeper and they said: “The beginning of the AD process shreds the material received, removing all solid material from the waste stream, which in this case would include your Vegware and any plastic found in the material stream. By undertaking this action, it would remove Vegware from the composting process and therefore not allow it to biodegrade. Ultimately Vegware is not suitable to for our AD process”.
Neither is Vegware suitable for garden waste, or for home composting as it requires commercial processing in order to break down, leaving you with one option: to put Vegware in with the normal waste collection. This way you will have the assurance that the packaging, unlike plastics, will eventually rot. While this may be okay for the time being, we think more can be done to turn the packaging into food for the soil.
What are we doing about it?
In addition to looking at other compostable packaging and encouraging you bring in your own tubs/tiffins and reusable cups, we will continue to discuss options with Bristol Waste to improve how Bristol deals with compostable packaging. This is very much a work in progress.
Watch this space…