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Chemistry, Materials & Packaging
Composting Consortium Aims to Advance Recovery of Compostable Packaging, Food Scraps

The new Consortium — which includes Closed Loop Partners, PepsiCo, the NextGen Consortium, the US Plastics Pact and other value chain players — aims to pilot industry-wide solutions and map tech and infrastructure investment to advance the circularity of compostable packaging in the US.

Today, the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners launched the Composting Consortium, together with founding partners PepsiCo and the NextGen Consortium. A multiyear collaboration, the Consortium brings together leading voices in the composting ecosystem in the US to identify the best path forward to increase the recovery of compostable food packaging and drive toward circular outcomes. PepsiCo and the NextGen Consortium — composed of Starbucks, McDonald's and other foodservice brands — are joined by supporting partners Colgate-Palmolive, Kraft Heinz, Mars and Target, as well as industry partners the Biodegradable Products Institute and the US Plastics Pact.

The Consortium is launching as compostable packaging and composting infrastructure continue to evolve. The demand for alternatives to traditional, fossil fuel-based, single-use plastic packaging continues to rise, and the market for compostable packaging is projected to grow 17 percent annually between 2020 and 2025. Compostable packaging presents potential environmental, economic and social benefits — diverting food packaging and food scraps within the packaging toward composting infrastructure, and mitigating the greenhouse gases emitted when these items otherwise end up in landfill. To meet the growth in compostable packaging, there needs to be more widely available composting infrastructure to fully recover the value of these materials.

"With current market forces and environmental challenges driving the growth of compostable packaging, there has never been a more critical time to collectively advance labeling, testing and infrastructure investments related to the recovery of compostable food packaging and food scraps," says Kate Daly, Managing Director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners. "We're excited to work together with leading brands and retailers, including PepsiCo and the partners of the NextGen Consortium, as well as the entire composting value chain — from global brands to composters and packaging manufacturers — to accelerate much-needed solutions."

This new collaboration is the latest in Closed Loop Partners' multi-pronged strategy to eradicate plastic waste and pollution — including its work with Target and other major retailers to Reinvent the Retail Bag. And brands such as Bacardi, Just Salad and Neutrogena have made strides in biodegradable and/or compostable product and packaging solutions, but standards for their composition and recovery remain an issue. The Composting Consortium recognizes the challenges in this growing packaging sector and calls for unity and clarity across stakeholders. New compostable materials need to be researched with diligence and deployed strategically as one line of defense against waste.

The Consortium will work to identify best practices for consumer understanding of compostable packaging labeling and collection; establish when compostable versus reusable or recyclable packaging applications are most appropriate; collaborate on best practices to inform policy making; and build an investment roadmap for expanding composting infrastructure to recover compostable packaging and food scraps. It brings together leading voices in the US composting ecosystem — including advisory partners Compost Manufacturing Alliance, Foodservice Packaging Institute, Google, ReFED, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, TIPA Corp Ltd., University College London and World Wildlife Fund — to increase the recovery of valuable resources otherwise lost to landfill.

"There is increasing awareness of the climate risks posed by food scraps being wasted in landfills, alongside the challenges of waste from packaging that is not getting recycled," noted Rhodes Yepsen, Executive Director of the Biodegradable Products Institute. “This is driving broad support for a change to the status quo, including a desire for widespread access to composting and innovative compostable packaging that can be composted with the food. Collaboration amongst diverse stakeholders is critical — which the Composting Consortium brings together, so we can make quick progress."