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Green light for all Vegware cups and lids in open windrow composting

Posted: 31st July 2018

Garden waste composting facilities across the UK are now officially allowed to process certified compostable hot and cold cups and lids. They qualify if milk or cream fit for human consumption is the only animal by-product present, and the packaging holds a valid compostability certificate from an independent certification body.

This development is announced by REA’s Organics Recycling Group, following talks with the Animal and Plant Health Agency, Environment Agency and Scottish Environment Protection Agency. It was facilitated by Edinburgh-based Vegware, the global specialist in plant-based compostable foodservice packaging.

With well over 100 open windrow composting facilities around the UK, this move dramatically increases the number of facilities allowed to process compostable drinks waste. It adds to the existing 53 in-vessel composting (IVC) facilities licensed to process food waste, over a third of which already accept Vegware’s compostable packaging.

Jeremy Jacobs, Technical Director, Renewable Energy Association, said:

“We welcome this opportunity for composting facilities without APHA approval to biodegrade these particular materials. Every year 300 million tonnes of new plastic are produced, so ensuring as much as possible is recycled and reused is an urgent and critical issue if we want to tackle plastic pollution in our soils, rivers and seas. Many plastics are durable and can take 600 years to break down. Avoiding plastic through the use of compostable packaging where possible is clearly to be welcomed.

“We have worked closely with Vegware to bring about this change; their willingness to collaborate closely with the waste sector on compostability issues makes them an exemplar organisation in partnership working.

“Any composter considering composting these types of material for the first time in their facility should run a trial with the waste supplier and evaluate it before deciding whether to enter into a contract with them.” 

Charlie Trousdell, Chairman of REA’s Organics Recycling Group, the UK composting industry association, added:

“Vegware has worked closely on this with REA ORG. Their due diligence around compostability, certification and their efforts to ensure minimal contamination is an excellent example – demonstrating that making compostable packaging work takes more than simply selling packaging.”

Vegware holds independent compostability certification for all its hot and cold cups and lids. Vegware’s stirrers are pure untreated wood, which are also allowable in open windrow composting. The new advice also allows used coffee grounds and loose-leaf tea. Tea bags and coffee capsules are only allowable if they hold a valid compostability certificate.

Vegware’s Environmental team has worked closely with the waste sector since 2012, increasing clients’ access to commercial composting and helping foodservice clients minimise contamination. Group Recycling Consultant Eilidh Brunton explains:

“In the US, Vegware is composted in open windrow facilities, and the Isle of Man’s DEFA has recently approved Vegware’s compostable drinks-only waste for open windrow. We took this idea to the Organics Recycling Group, who explored the detail with the government agencies. We are delighted to have official approval, as this opens up new opportunities for Vegware’s hot cups, cold cups, lids and stirrers all to be composted together with garden waste here in the UK.

“We already have sites keen to start a trial, and now we have the green light to start working through our due diligence process with these facilities. We expect that soon, UK householders and businesses in many regions will be able to put our compostable cups and lids in their garden waste bins.”

Vegware’s CEO Joe Frankel added:

“This is a game changer for compostables. With government approval for over 100 new composting facilities, we have expanded composting opportunities for our numerous clients who only serve drinks. This complements our existing relationships with in-vessel composting facilities and some anaerobic digestion facilities who accept our full range together with food waste. We’re growing the UK’s circular economy – disposables made from plants, composted here in the UK, creating compost to feed British fields.”

Commercial composting collections are not yet available in all UK regions, but Vegware is actively increasing coverage. Many waste collectors around the UK have an existing collection route taking used Vegware for composting with food waste. To help more clients access commercial composting, Vegware has launched its own collection, Close the Loop. This service is already in Scotland, Bristol, Gloucester and Worcester, with further expansion in development. In addition, some on-site composters are able to process used Vegware with food waste, which suits clients with outdoor space and a need for compost.

Vegware’s Environmental team also offer composting clients full support to minimise contamination, including effective bespoke bin signage, staff training and a range of communications tools to encourage correct recycling. This is vital to avoid sending contaminated waste to composting facilities.

Clear on-product labelling is also vital to help consumers recycle correctly. As part of its commitment to producer responsibility, Vegware is phasing in a new Green Leaf band design to its range as a clear visual cue for compostability. The design can also be used on posters and bin signage to assist with behaviour change and enable easy recycling. The Green Leaf band has been welcomed by the waste sector, and won best packaging innovation at the Footprint Awards this year for providing clarity aiming to reduce contamination.

In the UK, food waste is only allowed to be processed at in-vessel composting or anaerobic digestion facilities. These processes reach 60-70ºC, killing any pathogens which may be present from meat or bones. These animal by-product regulations (ABPR) came into force after the UK’s Foot and Mouth outbreak, to ensure that the resulting fertiliser is safe to be spread on fields. Open windrow composting takes in garden waste from local authorities and businesses and has not been suitable for processing animal by-products, until today’s announcement of milk and cream residues being accepted together with certified compostable cups and lids. The announcement does not apply for compostable waste material transported from outside the EU.

Vegware’s certified compostable drinks range

  • Vegware’s single wall hot cups are certified compostable by Din Certco to EN 13432, registration 7P0587, valid until 31st January 2020.
  • Vegware’s double wall hot cups are certified compostable by OK Compost TÜV Austria to EN 13432, certificate number TA8011702465, valid until 29th November 2022.
  • Vegware’s white CPLA hot cup lids are certified compostable by BPI to ASTM 6400, certificate number 2122186-12, valid until 31st March 2019.
  • Vegware’s black CPLA hot cup lids are certified compostable by BPI to ASTM 6400, certificate number 2122186-11, valid until 31st March 2019.
  • Vegware’s PLA cold cups and lids are certified compostable by BPI to ASTM 6400, certificate number 2122186-1, valid until 28th February 2019.
  • Vegware’s PLA-lined paper cold cups (launching in autumn 2018) are certified compostable by Din Certco to EN 13432, registration 7P0587, valid until 31st January 2020.
  • For collecting compostable waste, Vegware’s biobags are certified home compostable by Vinçotte OK Compost HOME to EN 13432, certificate number O 16-1821-A, valid until 9th February 2021.
  • Vegware’s wooden stirrers are made of pure untreated wood, so compostability certification is not needed.
  • Vegware does not yet hold compostability certification for card cup clutches, so these products are not allowed into open windrow composting. If clean and dry, they are suitable for card recycling.

For further technical information, see REA’s Organics Recycling Group

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