May 10, 2019

The truth about compostable packaging: why your compostable coffee cup isn’t always the greenest solution

Words by Zinnia Harris and Cat Butterfield

We live in a world where single-use is ubiquitous, especially when it comes to food and drinks packaging. Many disposable items work their way into landfill, significantly contributing to greenhouse gas emissions or, as has been highlighted by everyone’s favourite environmentalist, Sir David Attenborough, end up in our oceans and destroy marine life.

As a result, environmentally-aware consumers have rightly begun to demand a better solution. The outright answer to this ever-growing problem is to consume less (there, we said it!). But in the wake of our on-the-go, everything-at-our-fingertips lifestyle, giving up the daily disposable coffee cup and food box isn’t for everyone.

A shotgun reaction has seen the rise of a new ‘eco-friendly’ solution in the form of compostable packaging. Single-use without the guilt - what could possibly be better? Thousands of shops, cafes and restaurants up and down the country have replaced the usual culprits of styrofoam, plastic and plastic-coated paper packaging with their so-called greener compostable counterparts.

However, all is not as green as it seems. Many people are unaware that placed in the wrong bin, compostable packaging may do more environmental harm than good. Put it in your general waste and it won't be recycled. Placing it with your food waste won’t work either, as the rate at which compostable items decompose is vastly different to food. And no, sadly chucking them in with your mixed recycling is also not an option - they’ll clog up the machines and contaminate the recycling.

Yet all is not lost. First Mile now provides a specific compostable packaging recycling service for businesses and consumers. We collect compostable packaging in one of our ultra-low emission trucks and send it to a special UK-based plant where the right conditions allow the items to be correctly broken down to produce a nutrient-rich fertiliser.

So now, as long as you ensure your ultra-eco compostable coffee cup is being correctly recycled, you can enjoy your favourite takeaway guilt-free. Well almost!

Find out more about our compostable packaging recycling service or get in touch directly to get a quote: customers@thefirstmile.co.uk

By Zinnia Harris and Cat Butterfield

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