General consensus on the principles and feedback have given us a direction for the next steps of a roadmap to product stewardship.
05 November 2021
In June 2021, our Compostable Packaging Technical Advisory Group (CTAG) undertook a “Use Case” consultation with stakeholders connected to compostable packaging.
The aim of the use-case was to gain consensus on which material and application combinations should or should not be allowed into a product stewardship scheme for compostable packaging.
These were tied to five overarching key principles:
60 submissions were received. They showed strong support for the five key principles with work suggested to refine the principles.
The consultation suggested a range of application and material-type combinations, with submitters suggesting further definition of the principles taking precedence over specifying application/material combinations.
We also asked stakeholders about their support for such an agreed use-case and the prescribed application/material type combinations. Support for the use-case concept was high, as well as strong support for ingredients labelling to a managing entity.
Support for items being allowed in the system if they did not meet the use-case criteria but had a potential second-life as a caddy liner, was not as highly supported.
The CTAG will now progress working to define further the key principles, as an alternative to prescribing application/material type combinations.
This will form part of the “Roadmap to product stewardship for compostable packaging” document, currently under construction.
View the webinar (members only, create an account if you haven’t already)
A grant from The Packaging Forum has helped the Far North Environment Centre greatly reduce the volume of compostable and recyclable material from the Kaitāia Market going to landfill.
10 August 2021
The Centre has used their recent grant of $9,500 to provide bins for food waste, compostable packaging and recyclables at the market since the beginning of July.
The Centre’s Plastic Free Kaitāia Co-ordinator Waikarere Gregory says they began the project to coincide with Plastic Free July and collected two 60l bags of compostable material at one market alone, despite the poor weather. Previously only a general rubbish bin was available.
“It’s been a great success, reducing waste in the council landfill bins by up to 75% each week,” she says.
The compostable material collected from the market goes towards creating compost by KaitāiaCycle a collaboration with Good Life Projects (which works with youth and adults with intellectual disabilities to create bountiful gardens), CBEC Ecosolutions and Earthcare, Waikarere says.
The Centre identified the need for bins after running a trial at the market and found a strong zero-waste contingent, with most stalls using compostable or recyclable packaging. The trial also found many members of the public were keen to reduce waste to landfill, but a lack of bins meant compostable or recyclable material was going in general rubbish bins, she says.
“We’re also going to work with stallholders to help them move toward better packaging options that can be either recycled or composted, and ideally work towards a reusable system.”
The Centre took a zero-waste approach to the entire operation with the reusable bin liners sewn by local group Anō Anō Clothing Rescue, from old shower curtains, flags and material, Waikarere says.
She also uses an e-bike and trailer, on some days, to transport some of their gear to and from the market.
“We are currently looking for someone to employ to oversee the bins, but in the meantime are managing a roster system with our current contractors,” she says.
The Packaging Forum CEO Rob Langford says the Forum also supplied the Centre with a bin stand and signage from the Litter Less Recycling More project it was involved with to help make the bins more visible and prevent them toppling in high winds.
“We thought this was a great project because it not only keeps recyclable and compostable material out of landfill but helps with educating the public around putting waste in the right bins and not just choosing landfill as the default option,” he says.
Sustainable food packaging company Ecoware has rolled out its Compost Collect programme to seven cities around New Zealand, with the most recent being Christchurch.
22 July 2021
The company has partnered with Canterbury Landscape Suppliers (CLS) and recently launched Compost Collect in the Garden City.
Their certified compostable packaging is collected in bins placed at customer stores, such as coffee shops, and composted at CLS for commercial sale.
Find out more here.
The Packaging Forum is working with other key stakeholders (including composters) on resolving the issues surrounding compostable packaging. This consultation is a critical part of our collaborative work programme to progress solutions for this packaging type.
Published 3 June 2021
Consultation closes 30 June 2021
Compostable packaging has significant value in the packaging system in specific applications where it can bring nutrients to composters for composting, thus diverting organic waste from landfill. Globally, diverting wasted food from landfill is a priority. In New Zealand (NZ), our Climate Change Commission recently declared organic recycling a top priority for reducing carbon emissions in the waste industry, alongside capturing more methane from landfills.
“Compostable packaging” incorporates a wide range of material types used in a variety of applications. However, some applications are not globally considered as best practice for the generally accepted “use case” for compostable packaging.
In this consultation document we aim to discuss:
Consultation closing date: 30 June
How to make a submission
Simple submissions with answers less than 50 words per question may be submitted through our online survey.
For more detailed submissions, please email your submission, preferably in a word document.
Emailed submissions will need to include the following information:
Following the closing of the consultation, we will be analysing the results and publishing a summary document which will include recommendations.
Our Composable Packaging Technical Advisory Group Project Manager Kim Renshaw (Beyond the Bin founder) will lead a webinar to introduce its work.
11am, 3 June 2021
Attendance for members is free. Attendance for non-members is $30. To get tickets click here.
Kim will take us through the use case for composable packaging and launch the group’s consultation document, while Chris Purchas of the WasteMINZ Organic Materials Sector Group will speak about their views on this packaging type.
Attendance for members is free. Attendance for non-members is $30. To get tickets click here.
MEDIA RELEASE: A recent survey of compostable packaging stakeholders by The Packaging Forum shows that between them they have completed over 100 compostable packaging projects in the last five years, with another 81 in progress and 85 more planned.
3 February 2021
Yet there has been little progress made on developing a viable end-of-life solution for compostable packaging at the scale New Zealand requires. This according to Kim Renshaw of Beyond the Bin, who is project manager for The Packaging Forum’s Compostable Technical Advisory Group (CTAG).
What’s needed for progress to happen, she says, is clear in the top six requirements identified by stakeholders:
The CTAG is taking a collaborative approach in laying the groundwork for these to be developed and funded, she says.
“The next step is to gain an understanding of the volume of compostable packaging in the New Zealand market, and to clarify what level of investment and infrastructure is needed.”
As there is no existing data on this, the CTAG’s next survey will be asking manufacturers and importers to supply data to inform that understanding. Data will be aggregated to protect commercial sensitivity, Kim says.
“As public opinion has turned against plastics, many importers, manufacturers and brands have turned to compostable packaging as a promising solution. However, all packaging types need to end up in the right system at the end of their life to avoid causing unintended harm.”
“We’re working to overcome some complex problems such as the risk of contamination of compostable packaging with other materials, the ratios of compostable packaging that can be accepted by composters compared to other compostable material, what collection infrastructure could look like and how it could be funded,” she says.
The Forum recognises how important it is to overcome challenges and get systems in place for an increasingly popular packaging choice and will be working with all stakeholders to achieve this.
Ultimately the purpose of this work is to support Government in developing the right regulations for compostable packaging in New Zealand, ensuring the solution provides the best outcome for consumers and the environment, Kim says.
The Forum is inviting the following stakeholders to register to participate in a work programme and receive information:
To register as a stakeholder and keep up to date with progress, get in touch with The Packaging Forum here.
MEDIA RELEASE: The Packaging Forum welcomes Government’s latest move to phase-out difficult to recycle and unnecessary plastic packaging.
12 August 2020
However, the Forum’s Independent Chair Rob Langford cautions that great care must be taken to avoid any unintended consequences caused by producers and retailers moving to other packaging types such as a mass shift to compostable packaging without standards, labelling and end-of-life solutions being in place.
The Forum was reacting to the announcement by Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage today (12 August) that consultation would begin on the phase-out of a number of plastic products, such as straws, PVC food and beverage packaging, plastic tableware, and plastic cotton-buds among others.
Consultation would run until 4 November 2020.
“It’s good to see there is a long consultation period for this and we’ll certainly be part of the conversation on behalf of our members,” Rob says. The Packaging Forum, with more than 200 members, is New Zealand’s biggest member-based organisation representing the depth and breadth of the packaging industry.
While compostable packaging can be viewed by the public as something of a ‘silver bullet’, Rob warns there are also challenges with it. “For manufacturers, there is no defined use-case for compostable packaging.
“There is no New Zealand standard as required by the organic certified composters and few commercial composters which will accept it due to contamination, and there are varying requirements for home compostability. This makes it difficult for consumers to identify how to dispose of it at end of life.”
To assist members, the Forum has a compostable packaging and a fibre-based packaging technical advisory group which is investigating solutions for these challenges to remove the barriers for compostable packaging across the supply chain, Rob says.
“We welcome the opportunity to submit during the consultation period. Our members will be able to offer their knowledge and know-how to help ensure we have the best possible outcome.”
As part of our members’ commitment to taking responsibility for their packaging throughout its lifecycle, we’re inviting expressions of interest from members with special expertise or knowledge to join us in forming two technical advisory groups – one for compostable packaging, and another for fibre packaging (card and paper).
28 May 2020
Each of these packaging types has unique challenges when it comes to end of life resource recovery, be it collection, processing or end markets. Sound, scalable solutions will require input from those within the industry as well as others with specialist technical knowledge.
The Packaging Forum had previously formed a working group that was investigating the possible adoption of a compostable packaging standard. This group was disbanded pending the results of research being carried out on compostability of materials by other parties. The scope of the new advisory group will likely extend beyond establishing a standard.
The groups will explore the barriers and possible pathways to end of life solutions for these packaging types. Their findings and advice will inform decisions made by The Packaging Forum board. The terms of reference for the advisory groups will be established at the first meeting of interested parties. The Packaging Forum is committed to continue working collaboratively with other industry groups on these issues.
If you are interested in becoming a member of either of the groups, please register your expression of interest with Adele Rose (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 15 June 2020.
Plastics New Zealand’s CEO Rachel Barker has called for a crackdown on a practice called ‘greenwashing’ – where manufacturers claim their products are renewable or plastic free when they aren’t.
“There is a high level of greenwash around packaging in New Zealand, such as claims of ‘I’m not plastic’ on bags and bottles which are still plastic, even when they’re compostable or made from plants. Other items are advertised as ‘renewable’ when they include oil-based plastics. With the public increasingly concerned about making sustainable shopping purchases, this kind of greenwashing needs to stop.”
Ms Barker says that the definition of what is or isn’t a plastic is very clear.
“Plastic is any material that’s made from very long molecule chains called ‘polymers’ that can be formed into a shape and set. They can be made from plants like corn or sugar-cane as well as fossil-fuels. Plastics that are compostable are still plastic.”
WasteMINZ believe the key to stopping the greenwash is by providing clear guidance for consumers and product suppliers in New Zealand. Chris Purchas, chair of the WasteMINZ Organic Materials sector group, notes that:
“A lot of these materials are quite new and there hasn’t been a lot of guidance around advertising. Companies may accidentally mislead their customers and don’t realise their claims fall foul of the Fair Trading Act.”
WasteMINZ and Plastics NZ have set out to change this and have created the Guide to Advertising the Plastics Used in Compostable Products and Packaging. This was developed in collaboration with scientists, composting specialists and compostable packaging manufacturers. It answers some important questions and helps clear up the confusion for both companies and consumers.
The guide also tackles the myth that all plant-based plastics (bioplastics) are compostable. Rachel Barker points out,
“There is confusion around what is and isn’t compostable. Just because packaging is made from plants doesn’t automatically mean it’s compostable. Conversely packaging made using fossil fuels, isn’t automatically non-compostable.
Being compostable also doesn’t necessarily mean the item is made from renewable materials. It means the item will be converted to compost under the right conditions and the only way to definitively know is through a proper verification process. That’s why composting certification is so important.”
A list of the most common bioplastics on the market at the moment and whether they are plant-based or oil-based and whether they can be recycled or composted can be found here.