Campaigners highlight critical role of compostable packaging

“Save Our Soil” coordinators Springfield Agri and compostable packaging company TIPA collaborated at COP26 to show the role packaging choices in the food industry have on maintaining and improving soil quality.

The campaigners say compostable packaging helps to recover food waste, whereas conventional plastic harms food waste collections by contaminating composting processes and leaving microplastics in soil.

Microplastics interact with soil fauna, with earthworms having been shown to make their burrows differently when microplastics are present, affecting their fitness and – in consequence – soil health.

The composting process returns nutrients – including carbon – back to soil.  If the carbon stored in soil were increased by 0.4%, every year, the rising concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere could be halted.

Exhibiting to world leaders at COP26, the partnership presented compostable packaging as a ‘critical tool with a dual purpose’:   prolonging the life of food as it is transported to retailers and stored by consumers, and later carrying any waste back to composting.

Daphna Nissenbaum, co-founder and chief executive of TIPA commented: “We were proud to exhibit with Springfield Agri at COP26.  Our message was simple: meeting carbon targets requires healthy soils and healthy soils require the best possible yield of food waste for composting around the world.

“Compostable packaging can help consumers and governments alike meet this challenge by carrying more food waste into the composting process without contaminating the soil as plastics do.  We should be aiming for “net zero food waste”, where all excess food ends up restoring the soils which are so essential for growing more.

She said with the Prime Minister announcing that recycling plastic doesn’t work, it’s was vital point out the multitude of environmental benefits compostable packaging can offer, not only tackling plastic waste but playing a key role in meeting our climate goals.

Harry Holden the Farming Lead from Springfield Agri added that globally 25% of CO2 in the atmosphere has come from agriculture and in the UK 10%.

“The agricultural emissions have resulted in the depletion of the carbon stored in our soil from an average of 5% down to 0.8%. However this can be reversed by building healthy soils and crops which will draw down this excess CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and put it back in the soil where it came from.

“To meet the ‘4 in 1,000’ target to increase carbon in soil by 0.4% year on year, it is critical that food waste yields across the globe are improved.  Naturally that needs to start with the developed countries, who have the capability to collect food waste from their many city dwellers.

“It also requires major food brands to shift over to sustainable, compostable packaging so that food waste attached to materials it has been shipped in does not go to landfill or incineration but can be composted instead.”