Why Vegware? Why certified compostable? - Blog

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Monday 22nd February 2021

When we decided to look at what a compostables recycling service might look like, we quickly realised that things were not simple! Key to this was the strict acceptance criteria of composting sites - understandable given that compost is spread onto UK farms. 

We concluded that we needed to team up with an outside partner, one with expertise in compostable packaging. So in 2019, we teamed up with global specialist in plant-based compostables - Vegware. 

But they aren't the only brand of compostable catering disposables out there. 

Let’s explore why we've partnered with them for compostables collections in London, Brighton and Sussex....

Vegware does a huge amount of work behind the scenes, to reassure clients, composters (and collectors like us) that its products can - and do - compost.

Degradable, biodegradable, compostable?

Why does it matter? Caterers know everything about their food, but packaging can be complex. So let’s bring it to life with an example.

Your staff restaurant needs small bags to sell brownies or rolls to go. You source some with ‘degradable’ in green print. Degradable sounds like biodegradable – isn’t that ok for composting? Sadly not - these are normal plastics with an additive to make them break into lots of little flakes of plastic. Not compostable or recyclable, just a big littering problem. Oxo-degradable bags like this are still common in the UK, but are being banned all across the EU from July this year.

A simple purchasing mistake like this risks contaminating soil with plastic - the last thing anyone wants. Our clients want their waste to become quality compost for British fields – and that has to start with quality compostable disposables.

Compostable – and certified

Vegware holds the deepest set of compostability certification in the packaging sector. Certification has two steps:

  1. Laboratory tests: Vegware chooses to make its cups, cutlery and containers from raw materials which are certified compostable. These materials have been tested in laboratories to show they meet international compostability standards such as EN13432 or ASTM D6400.
  2. Independent certification: In addition, Vegware also applies to a certification agency to verify the product is compostable in its finished form, including any inks for printing. For example, a material could be compostable in thin sheet form, but a thick wine glass stem made from it may not break down quickly enough in commercial composting.

Tried and trusted
Vegware adds a third step – real-life trials. 

Senior Waste Management Consultant Eilidh Brunton explains:

“We have worked closely with the composting sector since 2010. On top of investing in certification, we also conduct field trials to ensure our products break down in a variety of composting facilities around the world. Paper Round takes clients" Vegware waste to a facility where the composting process takes just seven weeks, and the compost they make passes the PAS quality standard.

“With over 350 products in our range, certification is a major investment for us. But it’s incredibly important to demonstrate our products are suitable for industrial composting.”

Get in touch to find out more about our Vegware compostables service.

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