Closed Loop Partners Joins Forces with U.S. Composters and Composting Industry to Launch Large-Scale In-Field Degradation Tests for Compostable Packaging
January 23, 2023
Data from the pilot will be shared to help shape international standards for field testing compostable packaging and contribute to the launch of an open-source results database
NEW YORK, NY—January 23, 2023— The Composting Consortium, a collaboration of industry partners managed by Closed Loop Partners, announced Monday the launch of its Compostable Packaging Degradation Pilot. The initiative is the most comprehensive collaborative study of real-world compostable packaging disintegration in the U.S. to date. The project marks a milestone for the Consortium, as it aims to improve available data on how certified, food-contact compostable foodware and packaging is currently breaking down at various types of composting facilities––from static piles to worms to GORE® covers. 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.
Working with these industrial composting facilities across the U.S., the Compostable Packaging Degradation Pilot will evaluate the disintegration of more than 30 types of certified compostable products and packaging––including compostable cutlery, molded fiber bowls, bioplastic cups and snack packaging––across facilities operating with varying climates, composting methods and equipment. Data gathered from the assessment will inform the Consortium’s broader work to align the rapid growth of compostable packaging with on-the-ground operational and business needs of industrial composters.
Pilot development was informed by the expertise of the Consortium’s partners, including key industry collaborators such as the US Composting Council (USCC) and the Compost Research and Education Foundation (CREF), as well as the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI), BioCycle, Resource Recycling Systems (RRS) and consumer and packaging brand companies. These key stakeholders contributed technical knowledge to ensure that the pilot’s objectives, methodology and data align with the operational realities of composting facilities, as well as support circular and economically viable outcomes for composters.
Data collected from this pilot will be donated to the Compostable Field Testing Program (CFTP), a non-profit international research platform which facilitates field testing across North America. The CFTP is designed to develop comprehensive baseline data that correlates composting conditions with the disintegration of common compostable products and packaging. The Consortium’s donation of this data will accelerate the open-source publication timeline for the CFTP’s data set. Additionally, the Degradation Pilot will serve as a trial for the first, and still-developing, in-field standard for assessing disintegration of compostable items at compost facilities, under development within ASTM International. Results from this pilot will help to enhance and accelerate the final ASTM field test standard through ASTM Committee WK80528 for both mesh bag and bulk dose test methods. CFTP is supporting the Pilot by providing its methodology, composter training and operations. Resource Recycling Systems (RRS), a sustainability and recycling consulting firm, will administer the on-site data collection and lead the data analysis and reporting.
“The CFTP was collaboratively launched in 2016, knowing that our industry needed more open, available data about the correlations between composting conditions and the disintegration of common compostable products,” said Diane Hazard, Executive Director of the Compost Research and Education Foundation, a founding partner of the CFTP. “The Foundation is excited to be part of this important work. By donating data to the CFTP, Closed Loop Partners and its Composting Consortium help enable our organization to launch an open-source database on compostable packaging degradation results.”
The EPA estimates that around 4% of food waste is composted in the U.S., and as the composting landscape in the U.S. evolves, new materials are flowing through the organics stream. With these changes comes increasing pressure to successfully recover and process food scraps and food-contact compostable packaging. Many cities across the country are setting ambitious zero waste goals and, in some cases, mandating organics diversion. Amidst these efforts, the compostable packaging market is poised to grow 17% annually between 2020 and 2027, adding complexity to the challenge. With lookalike and imposter materials contaminating composting and recycling facilities, composters face challenges in efficiently processing inputs and maximizing valuable outputs.
“Systems change starts with understanding what is true in a supply chain today and partnering with stakeholders to create the future we want to see,” said Kate Daly, Managing Director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners. “We are grateful for our partnerships with industry leaders and compost facility operators as we identify a path forward to increased diversion of valuable resources from landfill while driving value for compost manufacturers.”
“Leading the way in innovation and technology is what we do at Atlas Organics,” said Jorge Montezuma, Director of Engineering. “Our joint team of operations and engineering will provide insights that will guide the compostable packaging industry forward for decades to come.”
The Degradation Pilot is a critical step in the Composting Consortium’s broader work to identify best practices in areas including consumer understanding of compostable packaging labeling and collection; sortation and sensing technologies; and policy. The Consortium will continue its collaborative work to build a roadmap for catalytic capital inputs that can support composting infrastructure in the U.S., find ways to increase the amount of food waste diverted from landfills and determine where compostable food packaging could add value to the system.
About the Composting Consortium
The Composting Consortium is a multi-year collaboration 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. 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. Hill’s Pet Nutrition parent company Colgate-Palmolive, Danaher Foundation, Eastman, The Kraft Heinz Company, Mars, Incorporated, and Target Corporation joined as supporting partners, and the Biodegradable Products Institute, the US Composting Council and the U.S. Plastics Pact joined as industry partners. Our advisory partners include 5 Gyres, Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI), Google, ReFED, Compost Research and Education Foundation (CREF), the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), TIPA, University College London (UCL), Western Michigan University (WMU), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Learn more about the Consortium at closedlooppartners.com/composting-consortium/
About the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners
Closed Loop Partners is at the forefront of building the circular economy. The company is comprised of three key business segments: an investment firm, innovation center and operating group. Closed Loop Partners brings together designers, manufacturers, recovery systems operators, trade organizations, municipalities, policymakers and NGOs to create, invest in, and support scalable innovations that target big system problems. In 2018, Closed Loop Partners launched its innovation center, the Center for the Circular Economy, which unites competitors to tackle complex material challenges and to implement systemic change that advances the circular economy. Learn more about the Center’s work at https://www.closedlooppartners.com/the-center/
About the US Composting Council
Founded in 1990, The US Composting Council advances compost manufacturing, compost utilization, and organics recycling to benefit our members, society, and the environment. Representing more than 800 members, about 500 of whom are manufacturers of compost, USCC’s mission is focused primarily on commercial compost manufacturing and marketing, and includes training, certification and education of compost facility operators; certification programs for compost testing; and lobbying and advocacy campaigns at the state and federal level.
About the Compost Research and Education Foundation
The Compost Research and Education Foundation, established in 1992, is an affiliate organization of USCC and supports initiatives that enhance the stature and practices of the composting industry by supporting scientific research, increasing awareness, and educating practitioners and the public to advance environmentally and economically sustainable organics recycling. The CREF has produced key publications that inform best practices for effective organics management, including the Test Methods for Evaluating Compost and Composting and the Compost Operations Training Course.
About the Compostable Field Testing Program
The Compostable Field Testing Program, or CFTP, is an international non-profit research platform which provides the method and materials to conduct field testing to composters across North America and beyond. Operating since 2016 as a collaborative venture between CREF and its partner BSIbio, the CFTP provides a standard test kit and a customizable protocol for the common ‘mesh bag method’. When participating facilities share back their results, this data is collected by the CFTP, aggregated and anonymized for eventual public release in an online database. This will provide comprehensive baseline data correlating composting conditions with the disintegration of common compostable products and packaging, enabling CREF, the public, the composting industry, compostable products industry and academics to develop tools for composters wanting to understand best practices for processing these feedstocks, and for product manufacturers to design products suited for real-world operating conditions.
About ASTM International
ASTM International is a globally recognized leader in the development and delivery of voluntary consensus standards. Today, over 12,000 ASTM standards are used around the world to improve product quality, enhance health and safety, strengthen market access and trade, and build consumer confidence. ASTM’s leadership in international standards development is driven by the contributions of its members: more than 30,000 of the world’s top technical experts and business professionals representing 140 countries. Working in an open and transparent process and using ASTM’s advanced IT infrastructure, ASTM members create the test methods, specifications, classifications, guides, and practices that support industries and governments worldwide. ASTM Committee WK80528 is developing the first in-field standard for measuring disintegration of compostable items. This field test method will be available for composters to assess how well compostable items break down in real world conditions.
About Atlas Organics
Atlas Organics is a leading composting company, providing municipalities, corporations, local businesses, and residential homes with access to commercial composting facilities that process organic waste streams. Atlas offers both pickup and delivery of the highest-quality grade of finished compost, soil blends, and mulches for use in agricultural settings, landscaping, golf courses, gardens, and site development projects across the United States. Founded in Spartanburg, SC in 2015, Atlas is now a Generate Upcycle company––owned and operated by sustainable infrastructure leader Generate Capital, PBC. Together we are rebuilding the world. For more information, please visit www.atlasorganics.net and http://www.generatecapital.com/.
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Closed Loop Partners Collaborates with PepsiCo, the NextGen Consortium & Other Leading Brands to Advance Composting Infrastructure & Recover Compostable Packaging and Food Scraps
November 09, 2021
The new Composting Consortium aims to pilot industry-wide solutions and build a roadmap for investment in technologies and infrastructure to address the growth in production of compostable food packaging
NEW YORK, Nov. 9, 2021 — Today, the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners announced the launch of the Composting Consortium, together with Founding Partners PepsiCo and the NextGen Consortium. PepsiCo and the NextGen Consortium, which is composed of Starbucks, McDonald’s and other foodservice brands, are joined by Supporting Partners Colgate-Palmolive, The Kraft Heinz Company, Mars, Incorporated, and Target Corporation, as well as Industry Partners the Biodegradable Products Institute and the U.S. Plastics Pact. 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.
These key stakeholders are uniting at a critical time as the landscape around compostable packaging and composting infrastructure rapidly evolves. Currently, 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 20271. Compostable packaging presents potential environmental, economic and social benefits, diverting food packaging and food scraps within the packaging toward composting infrastructure, and mitigating the greenhouse gases emitted when these otherwise end up in landfill. To meet the growth in compostable packaging, there needs to be more widely available composting infrastructure to fully recover the value of these materials.
The Composting Consortium recognizes the current challenges in this growing packaging sector and calls for unity and clarity across stakeholders. New compostable materials need to be researched with diligence and deployed strategically as one line of defense against waste. There is no quick fix to a complex global waste challenge, and the Consortium looks to chart a clear pathway forward for the industry.
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. It brings together leading voices in the composting ecosystem in the United States to increase the recovery of valuable resources otherwise lost to landfill. Consortium Advisory Partners include Compost Manufacturing Alliance (CMA), Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI), Google, ReFED, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), TIPA Corp Ltd., University College London and World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
“With current market forces and environmental challenges driving the growth of compostable packaging, there has never been a more critical time to collectively advance labeling, testing and infrastructure investments related to the recovery of compostable food packaging and food scraps,” says Kate Daly, Managing Director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners. “We’re excited to work together with leading brands and retailers, including PepsiCo and the partners of the NextGen Consortium, as well as the entire composting value chain––from global brands to composters and packaging manufacturers––to accelerate much-needed solutions.”
“Knowing how important packaging is––to protect the safety, quality and freshness of our products, extend their shelf life and limit food waste––we understand how critical it is to advance holistic solutions that prevent packaging from becoming waste. Building on our initiatives to improve the circularity of compostable packaging, we are thrilled to work toward this goal as a Founding Partner of the Composting Consortium,” says Burgess Davis, VP Global Sustainable Packaging and Sustainability Strategy at PepsiCo. “This unprecedented collaboration with the NextGen Consortium and leading foodservice and consumer goods brands can forge a clear path forward for compostable packaging, strengthening it as a viable alternative to plastics and preventing it from going to waste.”
“There is increasing awareness of the climate risks posed by food scraps being wasted in landfills, alongside the challenges of waste from packaging that is not getting recycled. This is driving broad support for a change to the status quo, including a desire for widespread access to composting and innovative compostable packaging that can be composted with the food,” noted Rhodes Yepsen, Executive Director of the Biodegradable Products Institute. “Collaboration amongst diverse stakeholders is critical, which the Composting Consortium brings together so we can make quick progress.”
About the Composting Consortium
The Composting Consortium is a multi-year collaboration across the entire 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. 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. Hill’s Pet Nutrition parent company Colgate-Palmolive, The Kraft Heinz Company, Mars, Incorporated, and Target Corporation joined as supporting partners, and the Biodegradable Products Institute and the U.S. Plastics Pact joined as industry partners. Our advisory partners include Compost Manufacturing Alliance (CMA), Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI), Google, ReFED, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), TIPA Corp Ltd., University College London and World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Learn more about the Consortium here.
About the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners
Closed Loop Partners is a New York-based investment firm comprised of venture capital, growth equity, private equity, project-based finance and an innovation center. In 2018, Closed Loop Partners launched its innovation center, the Center for the Circular Economy, which unites competitors to tackle complex material challenges and to implement systemic change that advances the circular economy. Closed Loop Partners brings together designers, manufacturers, recovery systems operators, trade organizations, municipalities, policymakers and NGOs to create, invest in, and support scalable innovations that target big system problems. Learn more about the Center’s work here.
PepsiCo products are enjoyed by consumers more than one billion times a day in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. PepsiCo generated more than $70 billion in net revenue in 2020, driven by a complementary food and beverage portfolio that includes Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Quaker, Tropicana and SodaStream. PepsiCo’s product portfolio includes a wide range of enjoyable foods and beverages, including 23 brands that generate more than $1 billion each in estimated annual retail sales. Guiding PepsiCo is our vision to Be the Global Leader in Convenient Foods and Beverages by Winning with Purpose. “Winning with Purpose” reflects our ambition to win sustainably in the marketplace and embed purpose into all aspects of our business strategy and brands. PepsiCo recently introduced pep+ (pep Positive), a strategic end-to-end transformation with sustainability at the center of how the company will create growth and value by operating within planetary boundaries and inspiring positive change for the planet and people. For more information, visit www.pepsico.com.
About the NextGen Consortium
The NextGen Consortium is a multi-year consortium that addresses single-use food packaging waste globally by advancing the design, commercialization and recovery of food packaging alternatives. The NextGen Consortium is managed by Closed Loop Partners’ Center for the Circular Economy. Starbucks and McDonald’s are the founding partners of the Consortium, with The Coca-Cola Company joining as a sector lead partner. JDE Peet’s, Wendy’s and Yum! Brands are supporting partners. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is the environmental advisory partner. Learn more at www.nextgenconsortium.com.