The Packaging Forum: A Clear Need for Coordinated Action

A recent survey of compostable packaging stakeholders by The Packaging Forum has shown 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.

Yet there has been little progress made on developing a viable end-of-life solution for compostable packaging at the scale New Zealand requires, according to Kim Renshaw of Beyond the Bin, who is the project manager for The Packaging Forum’s Compostable Technical Advisory Group (CTAG).

Renshaw has identified the top six requirements need for progress to happen:

  • Nationally available collections infrastructure
  • A labelling system
  • Increased processing infrastructure
  • An official New Zealand standard for compostability of packaging
  • Funding
  • Networking (knowledge sharing)

“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,” said Renshaw, adding that the CTAG is taking a collaborative approach in laying the groundwork for these to be developed and funded.

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.

“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,” Renshaw continued.

“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.”

The Forum recognised 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. Renshaw explained that ultimately the purpose of this work was to support the Government in developing the right regulations for compostable packaging in New Zealand, ensuring the solution provides the best outcome for consumers and the environment.

The Forum is inviting the following stakeholders to register to participate in a work programme and receive information:

  • Manufacturers and importer of compostable packaging
  • Brands and retailers who sell goods in compostable packaging
  • Composting collectors and processors
  • Brands considering switching to compostable packaging

You can contact The Packaging Forum here.