Recommendations about how to communicate with citizens about appropriate disposal of compostable plastic packaging are also provided – for example, explaining whether the item can be composted at home or not, and highlighting the importance of not putting them in the recycling bin with conventional plastics.
Helen Bird, Strategic Engagement Manager at WRAP, said: “We know from research that 77% of citizens believe that compostable plastic is better for the environment than other types of packaging. However, compostable plastic is still plastic, and it is no silver bullet for solving plastic pollution.
“Businesses need to be clear on when it is viable, given the complexities surrounding current treatment infrastructure. When it comes to recyclability, WRAP is clear that a claim of ‘recyclable’ should only be made if it can be recycled in practice. The same should be applied to compostable plastics. And it is critical that end markets for recycled plastics are not compromised; people need clear instruction not to place compostable plastics in the recycling bin.
“But there are certain applications where it can be a helpful alternative to conventional plastics; absolute no-brainers include fruit stickers and tea bags. This new guidance will help steer decision-making on this complex and high-profile topic.”
The guidance highlights the importance of communicating with citizens to ensure they end up in the correct bin, but the challenges in doing so owing to the current infrastructure. Some instructional phases are suggested such as “place in your food or garden waste bin if your local council accepts it”, while also recommending statements to counter the risk that some people may see compostable plastics as a license to litter.
In March, WRAP is launching a campaign aimed at citizens which will provide factual and balanced information about plastics, including compostable plastics.
The guidance is available at: https://www.wrap.org.uk/compostable-plastic-packaging-guidance
Find out more about The UK Plastics Pact at: https://www.wrap.org.uk/content/the-uk-plastics-pact
WRAP is a not for profit organisation founded in 2000 which works with governments, businesses and citizens to create a world in which we source and use resources sustainably. Our impact spans the entire lifecycle of the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the products we buy, from production to consumption and beyond. Find out more at: www.wrap.org.uk