Evolving Perspectives on Compostable Food Serviceware
Restaurants today have lots of questions when it comes to their food service packaging. Creating sustainable solutions for the cups, bowls, utensils, is indeed a challenge. Is recyclable the way to go? If they make everything compostable, doesn’t that make everything easier?Well…yes and no.Hypothetically, making all foodservice ware compostable means there is only one bin at the front-of-the-house and the streams can’t get contaminated. Unfortunately, there are still a number of issues:
–People still bring in other materials from outside. Stadiums and other closed access venues have a distinct advantage from this perspective, but there are always materials you can’t control for. Often, even those who adopt compostable foodservice ware still serve some items which may be recyclable or not, and these materials contaminate the organics stream
–Lack of infrastructure is a persistent problem. More and more organics recycling programs are popping up nation-wide, but they are still not available in all areas, which creates difficulties for brands that are trying to maintain as uniform a catalog of products as possible.
–Anaerobic digestion is not a great fit with certified compostable foodservice packaging. In composting facilities, this type of packaging is commonly sorted out and landfilled.
–Another issue being discussed within the industry is PFAS, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which is an issue for fiber-based bowls and plates, etc.
Add issues like these to the common list of culprits such as manufacturers that make false claims about their materials and are not actually certified compostable.
Compostable food service ware allows for the easy recycling of both food scraps and the serving dishes they come on. However, lack of infrastructure and doubt about compostability even when infrastructure does exist, restrains large-scale adoption of these materials. At a time when the food scrap recycling industry is gaining steam, decisions regarding the compostability of food service ware are at a crossroads. Attendees will hear about the unfiltered perspective of those that are making procurement choices.