COMPOSTING CONSORTIUM

ADVANCING THE RECOVERY OF
COMPOSTABLE PACKAGING

 

The demand for alternatives to traditional fossil fuel-based single-use plastic packaging is rising, and the market for compostable packaging is poised to grow 17% annually between 2020 and 2027. As the market for compostable packaging grows, more widely available composting infrastructure is needed to meet this growth and recover these valuable materials. Mounting food and plastic packaging waste, and increasingly urgent climate risks, are galvanizing diverse stakeholders toward concerted action, from eco-conscious customers, to governments, to brands.

The Composting Consortium, managed by the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners, is a multi-year collaboration across the entire compostable packaging value chain to pilot industry-wide solutions and build a roadmap for investment in technologies and infrastructure that enable the recovery of compostable food packaging and food scraps.

Why Compostable Packaging?

One-third of global greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity can be attributed to the way we produce, process and package food. When done thoughtfully and collaboratively, packaging reduction and design innovations present robust environmental, economic and social benefits. 

Compostable packaging presents potential environmental, economic and social benefits, offering a means to reduce food waste and mitigate climate impacts by diverting food scraps within packaging toward composting infrastructure, and avoiding the greenhouse gases emitted when food waste ends up in landfill.

Learn More About Composting’s Role in a Circular Economy

Our Goal

The Consortium brings together leading voices in the composting ecosystem in the United States to identify the best path forward to increase the recovery of compostable food packaging and drive toward circular outcomes.

 

Our Approach

The Consortium will work across multiple workstreams to identify best practices for consumer understanding of compostable packaging labeling and collection; establish when compostable versus reusable or recyclable packaging applications are most appropriate; collaborate on best practices to inform policy making; and build an investment roadmap for expanding composting infrastructure to recover compostable packaging and food scraps.

Our Composting Pilots

The Composting Consortium works closely with composters and other key stakeholders to gather data that can inform the best path forward and drive value across the composting system.

  • Contamination Pilot

    Contamination is one of the biggest challenges in composting facilities. More data is needed to understand how much contamination exists in feedstock and in the “overs” –– big pieces like wood chips and avocado pits that are typically sorted out during the final screen before the curing stage. Our in-field pilot aims to establish a baseline for contamination rates and common contaminants, as well as draw correlations between operational choices and the sortation measures that most effectively reduce contamination in compost products. Data gathered from this pilot will be used to support future research efforts and identify priorities for investments in composting operations.

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  • Compostable Packaging Degradation Pilot

    There is currently a lack of public information on the conditions in which compostable packaging degrades. This pilot is designed to measure and identify the operating conditions that support the degradation of compostable packaging of various materials and formats. Data from this pilot will be donated to the Compost Field-Testing Protocol – a joint program between the Composting Research and Education Foundation (CREF) and BSIBiowhich aims to publish a public database correlating composting conditions with the disintegration of common compostable products and packaging. Data from this pilot will also support the development of ASTM’s standardized field test (D34) and establish a single set of acceptability criteria for compostable packaging. To design this pilot, Closed Loop Partners collaborated with composting industry groups including the United States Composting Council (USCC), CREF, and Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) alongside brand partners.  

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  • Consumer Labeling Pilot

    This pilot was co-designed with our Advisory Partner, the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI), to test how different approaches in design and labeling affect how consumers and end-users identify and perceive compostable product packaging. Our goal is to identify those design and labeling techniques that best improve the diversion of food-contact compostable packaging to the correct material stream.

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Consortium Partners

The Composting Consortium is managed by Closed Loop Partners’ Center for the Circular Economy. PepsiCo and the NextGen Consortium are founding partners of the Consortium. Colgate-Palmolive, Eastman, The Kraft Heinz Company, Mars, Incorporated, and Target Corporation joined as supporting partners, and the Biodegradable Products Institute, US Composting Council and the U.S. Plastics Pact joined as industry partners. Our advisory partners include 5 Gyres, Compost Research & Education Foundation (CREF), Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI), Google, ReFED, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), TIPA Corp Ltd., University College London, University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, Western Michigan University and World Wildlife Fund (WWF).