Research and analysis

Compostable Packaging Disintegration at Composting Facilities

Does compostable packaging successfully break down in commercial compost systems?

Roughly one-third of the world’s food is wasted each year and sent to landfill––a loss estimated at $230 billion. To address this urgent climate and economic challenge, state and local policies requiring organics collection are being enacted to divert food scraps from landfill. This in turn has sparked  the U.S. composting industry to increase their capacity to process food waste. As compostable packaging gains traction and serves as a means to divert food scraps from landfill, roughly 70% of food waste composters now accept some forms of this packaging.

Yet limited public information is available on how well certified, food-contact compostable packaging successfully breaks down in real-world composting facilities––or on the composting conditions that best support disintegration.

Read the full report

This new report fills this critical data gap, supporting the composting industry in its transition and helping ensure the responsible growth of compostable packaging and composting infrastructure.

The Composting Consortium’s groundbreaking study, analyzing the disintegration of over 23,000 units of compostable packaging in the largest known field test of certified, food-contact compostable packaging conducted in North America. Our newly published report replaces anecdotes with insights, sharing data on the realities of compostable packaging disintegration and identifying the optimal composting conditions that support it.

Participating facilities include Ag Choice; Atlas Organics; Black Earth Compost; The Foodbank, Inc. of Dayton, Ohio; Happy Trash Can Curbside Composting; Napa Recycling; Specialized Environmental Technologies, Inc.’s Empire Facility; Veteran Compost and Windham Solid Waste Management. 

Data will be donated to the Compostable Field Testing Program, an international non-profit research platform that 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 the first ASTM field test standard for compostable packaging. Closed Loop Partners collaborated with composting industry groups including the United States Composting Council (USCC), the Compost Research and Education Foundation (CREF) and Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI), alongside brand partners on this study.