The person is Madeleine Cuff.

Compostable plastic that has not fully disintegrated in a compost bin

Compostable plastic doesn't fully break down in a compost bin. is a website.

Composted plastic labelled as suitable for home composting doesn't break down properly in garden bins, leaving scraps of residual plastic in the food chain

The findings prompted researchers to call for an update of certification standards, and at least one company decided to stop using compostable plastic.

More than 1600 members of the public took part in the Big Compost Experiment, a UK-wide study to test how well composted plastic packaging can be.

They composted packaging such as newspaper and magazine wrappers, food caddy liners and shopping bags for three to twelve months, then sifted through the resulting compost to spot any remaining plastic.

Most of the items were found to be intact and visible to the naked eye. Around one-third of items were reported to have been composted, while some 60 per cent of certifications didn't break down correctly.

The results expose a major problem with the certifications.

There are lab experiments that use a fixed type of compost, a specific set of organisms and small samples of compostable materials.

Composting can be done in a variety of ways, with different conditions depending on the type of compost bin used, the kind of soil in the garden or the location of the composters.

She says that some of the underlying standards and testing are not reflective of the real world that they are going into. It means that standards and certification aren't fit for purpose.

Entering the food chain

There is a high risk of plastic entering the food chain because compost is used to grow food in gardens and allotments. She says there is a way into the food chain and into the things we eat.

Compostable plastic has become popular as a sustainable alternative to oil-based plastic packaging.

Composted plastic ends up being burned or sent to landfill in the UK because there isn't a dedicated collection route.

Endlessly recyclable materials could fix our plastic waste crisis

There is a lot of plastic waste in the world. Chemical tricks are being used to design materials that are easy to recycle.

Composted packaging is usually fished out of food waste collections.

Composting at home is one of the best ways to make sure your plastic is actually composted.

Purkiss thinks that packaging producers should think twice before telling the public to compost.

She says that the term Home Composting shouldn't be used if it doesn't represent the actual variety of environments.

Phasing out compostables

The evidence from the University College London led to the decision by the organic food company to phase out the use of plastic in its packaging.

According to Hugo Lynch, the findings from the study chimed with the feedback from their own customers, who wrote in to complain about the packaging not being composted in their home bins.

He says there are a number of products that are certified to degrade. It's clear that a lot of things that are certified under those conditions don't happen in real-world conditions.

Lynch says that they are working with suppliers to make sure that compostable plastic is phased out completely by the end of the year.

The debate over home compostables is being blown out of proportion according to David Newman from the BBIA.

Home composting is a hobby activity that many people are not very good at, according to Newman. He says that it is a very small part of the population that actually does it. Composting isn't working if you say that home composts don't work.

He wants people to be able to put compost in their food waste bins. The inclusion of caddy liners for food waste is allowed by most council. He says that the industry of industrial composting is controlled by professionals. He says we need to sort out our food waste collection systems.

The journal's title is "Fresus in Sustainability."

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  • materials
  • pollution
  • plastic