Value of Compostable Packaging Report Reveals the Immense Opportunity to Reduce Food Waste

June 15, 2017

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA, JUNE 15, 2017 — The Sustainable Packaging Coalition has released a first-of-its-kind report on the Value of Compostable Packaging. In 2016, the SPC staff conducted five waste characterizations at venues across the Charlottesville, Va-area. The team performed waste characterizations at a quick service restaurant, a national grocery store chain, a farmers market, an evening concert event, and a full day festival. Using the data collected from the waste characterizations, the staff was able to analyze the quantities of both food and compostable packaging in front-of-house and back-of-house settings at each venue.

By understanding the amount of food waste that compostable packaging can bring to a compostables bin in different settings, compost manufacturers and venues can make informed decisions that ultimately divert waste and reduce emissions.

“To our surprise, the portion of food waste at many venues was bigger in the front-of-house than it was in the back-of-house, where food is prepared and cooked,” said Charlotte Dreizen, Project Associate at the Sustainable Packaging Coalition and co-author of this report.  “This reveals that there’s huge untapped potential to leverage compostable packaging to deliver half-eaten food to a compostables bin, especially in closed venues.”

While every venue had different waste streams and foodservice operations procedures, common threads were found among all venues. Patrons and employees at all locations were confused about what types of packaging were recyclable, compostable, or unrecoverable. The venues that had a mix of compostable and non-compostable food serviceware also found it difficult to realize the full waste diversion potential because of the complexity of separating food from non-compostable types of serviceware.

“It’s clear today that  most compost manufacturers crave food waste and only tolerate compostable packaging,” said Dreizen. “ We hope our research can illuminate the ‘size of the prize’ that compostable packaging can deliver as feedstock. As more cities and states craft mandates for food waste diversion, this information can help food service operations get ahead of the curve and be proactive instead of reactive.”

Download the report here.

About The Sustainable Packaging Coalition

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition ® is a membership-based collaborative led by an independent non-profit that believes in the power of industry to make packaging more sustainable. Using an objective life-cycle-based approach, we work in a constructive atmosphere to provide thought leadership and bring our members together to strengthen and advance the business case for more sustainable packaging.