WasteMINZ Organic Materials Sector Group has a number of projects which are looking into compostable packaging and how it can be processed in New Zealand. To join the sector group please email firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2015 a New Zealand standard for compostable film (AS 4736) was agreed upon and any council looking at setting up a kerbside organics collection and permitting compostable bin liners has agreed to use that standard. Learn more here.
Standards for compostable packaging and food service ware.
To date there is no agreed New Zealand standard for compostable packaging and food service ware. In the absence of a New Zealand composting standard there are several overseas standards that are recognised in Aotearoa:
Commercial composting standards and verifying organisations:
Home composting standards and verifying organisations:
To determine if a product genuinely meets a standard you can check the following databases. If the product is certified compostable, it should be listed in the relevant database.
ASTM D 6400 and En13432 https://www.bpiworld.org/CertifiedCompostable
If you have any questions about these standards, please contact email@example.com
The Packaging Forum established an independent technical working group (Compostable Packaging Standard Adoption Working Group (CPSA-WG)) comprising composters, manufacturers, waste industry, central and local government and research institutions which met in 2018 to assess existing international composting standards and determine whether a separate New Zealand standard is necessary. For the results of that working group, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Paper packaging and products
Generally it is only compostable plastic packaging and products that require certification (including paper based coffee cups or takeaway containers that have a PLA lining). For paper only packaging and products the Australasian Bioplastics Association notes:
Paper, being wood-fibre based is accepted as a natural material and presents no environmental hazard. However, additives and coatings may affect the rate of disintegration and biodegradation or toxicity in the final compost, as can residue from the paper manufacturing process, colorants and printing inks. For this reason, some have applied to have their paper and other natural fibre based products verified to meet the requirements of one of the Australian standards as they believe that having that certification will be a marketing advantage. There is no regulatory or legal obligation to have a product so certified, but if you are challenged to prove claims of compostability or biodegradability, having the certification may be of assistance.
The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment published an online resource in July 2018 on “Biodegradable and compostable plastics in the environment”, as the result of a small enquiry into claims being made about these plastics as “the array of environmental claims being made about plastic packaging might easily lead to misunderstandings.” Click here to view.
In June 2018 WasteMINZ convened an Advertising of Compostable Products Working Group (ACPWG). The ACPWG is made up of council and industry representatives and scientists and aimed to:
This group has published 4 guides to compostable and biodegradable products. The first 3 guides are aimed at consumers, retailers and businesses who are making decisions about consumables (including packaging and food service ware).
“A Quick guide to environmental claims for plastic products and packaging” – which is aimed at consumers who want to know the difference between compostable, biodegradable and degradable plastics.
“It’s complicated: A guide to biodegradable & compostable products and packaging” – which is aimed at manufacturers or retailers who need to understand the environmental claims of products they are being encouraged to purchase. Environmental educators, sustainability experts council staff and consumers who want more details will also find it useful.
End of life flowchart – which provides a pictorial guide to the different terms and their disposal options. The flowchart can be used on its own or to complement the Quick Guide and It’s Complicated. The End of life flowchart can be downloaded as a jpeg and embedded as an infographic provided that WasteMINZ is credited for the image.
These guides can be viewed here.
The fourth guide Best Practice Guidelines for the Advertising of Compostable Products was published in collaboration with Plastics NZ. These guidelines are aimed at manufacturers, distributors and retailers of compostable products and focus on the requirements of the Commerce Commission and the Advertising Standards Authority for claims (such as ‘compostable’, ‘biodegradable” or ‘degradable’). This guide can be viewed here.
A fifth guide on Advertising the plastics used in compostable products and packaging was produced in February 2020 by a separate working group and again in collaboration with Plastics NZ. This guide is in an accessible Q&A format and provides answers to questions such as whether an item made from compostable plastic can be advertised as being “plastic free” and whether packaging that is compostable but includes fossil fuel based plastic can be advertised as renewable. This guide can be viewed here.
If you have any questions about the advertising of compostable products, please email email@example.com
A list of facilities which accept compostable packaging can be viewed here.
WasteMINZ is also working with facilities who wish to trial taking compostable packaging.
If your facility is interested in trialling compostable packaging, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The New Zealand Composting Industry met in July 2018 to discuss the future of compostable packaging from their perspective. Read their position statement here
Plastics NZ and the WasteMINZ Organic Materials Sector Group have produced a guide on advertising the plastics used in compostable products and packaging. The guide has a Q&A format and provides answer to questions such as:
The guide also addresses the assumptions that all bio-based plastics are compostable whereas only some are, and that all compostable plastics are bio-based which only some are. For example, PBAT is a compostable fossil fuel based plastic often used in certified home compostable packaging.
The guide can be found here along with a table on commonly used bio plastics and whether they can be composted or recycled.