// The Closing the Loop for Compostable packaging project will explore whether UK’s recycling system is suitable
// Research will look at different types of packaging including crisp packets, coffee pods and single service ware
Representatives from Marks and Spencer, Tesco and Ocado have all joined Compostable Coalition UK as members of its advisory board in order to help further its ambition to achieve full circularity for compostable packaging.
The project – which is called Closing the Loop for Compostable Packaging – will look in to whether the UK’s infrastructure is suitable to effectively recycle compostable packaging.
The research will explore ways of collecting, sorting and recycling compostable packaging correctly within the UK’s system.
The board members are also signed up to the UK Plastics Pact.
The project will look closely at hard to recycle plastics, including flexible packaging (such as crisp bags and fresh produce bags), small formats (such as coffee pods and tea bags) and single use service ware.
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Some 1.3 million tonnes of plastic packaging, and around 50% of plastic packaging in the UK is not currently being recycled.
“At M&S we know that meeting our commitments on plastic will require us to explore all options,” said Marks and Spencer senior packaging technologist Sam Clough, who is on the advisory board.
“Plastic waste is a difficult problem to solve and compostables could be part part of the solution. But their lifecycle is complex, and the benefits are hard to validate,” he continued.
Other members of the board from UK supermarkets include James Bull, Tesco’s head of packaging and food waste strategies, Laura Fernandez, Ocado senior sustainability and packaging manager.
Last month retailers including Marks and Spencer and trade groups such as the British Retail Consortium, met with the environment secretary Thérèse Coffey to raise concerns about a £1.7 billion packaging scheme, arguing that it wouldn’t be costly to consumers, and not as beneficial as intended.
M&S recently launched recyclable packaging across its range of rice, grains and pulses, while towards the end of last year Tesco committed to replacing or removing packaging on some of its items including bread loaves and doughnuts.
“We are delighted to have assembled such a formidable group of packaging and wider industry experts to join our research project,” said Compostable Coalition spokesperson Tomos Davies.
“Their insights and expertise will prove invaluable in finessing the research projects as well as ensuring the objectivity of our research trials,” he continued.