As the consumer demand for eco friendly packaging heats up (from one third of us, according to Mintel’s 2019 Global Food and Drink Trends report), the smart packaging suppliers are on the case. New and innovative alternatives to plastic and flexible packaging that can be diverted from landfill and recycling are hitting the market.
However, are these packaging alternatives as eco friendly as the packaging suppliers claim?
Currently in Australia and New Zealand, logos are being printed on packaging and claims are made about the eco-friendliness and compostability of packaging, without having to substantiate them – and no one is checking these claims.
This can have disastrous consequences for the environment.
In the case of home compostable packaging, untested and unsubstantiated compostability claims may see petrochemical or plastic particles entering our food chain.
Independent testing and accreditations are one solution to contesting these incorrect claims. TUV Austria and the Australasian Bioplastics Association (ABA) are two reputable accreditation associations which currently hold certification for home compostability of food packaging.
Comprehensive testing for home compostable flexible packaging validates that the whole package will break down toxin free within 26 weeks (maximum) under the temperatures in a home compost bin.
Both the TUV and ABA use percentage guidelines under each testing criteria to determine to certify a package as home compostable. The ABA has tougher guidelines, with lower allowable percentages of toxins in the packaging.
Testing requires every component used to produce the packaging to be environmentally friendly – not only the physical packaging material itself but also the printing ink and the adhesives used to bind the layers to ensure the high barrier required for food.
How can you tell packaging is accredited?
When a home compostable packaging has gone through the testing phase with TUV or ABA and successfully been granted the accreditation, the packaging itself, is given a certificate with a unique number.
We all play a part
We all have a responsibility to be diligent in our research and checks when choosing eco-friendly packaging for our food and products. Consumers are called to put pressure on food companies to verify the claims on their packaging, and food brand owners are calling on packaging suppliers to substantiate their environmentally sound packaging claims with accreditation.
This article was originally published in the July / August 2019 edition of PKN Packaging Magazine, page 42
Compost Me Australia has certified home compostable and compostable packaging in flexible, duplex or triplex, high barrier options – contact us today to find a suitable environmentally friendly packaging style for your product.