Food Packaging

What is biodegradable food packaging?

To understand what makes food packaging biodegradable, it’s important to distinguish it from other often synonymously used terminology. The terms ‘biodegradable’ and ‘compostable’, for example, should not be used interchangeably. Biodegradable products should be able to break down naturally. This natural process follows three key stages: ‘biodeterioration’, ‘biofragmentation’, and ‘assimilation’. Compostable packaging, by contrast, requires more specific environmental factors in order to successfully be broken down. This can may include certain temperature or moisture level thresholds, for example. Such products will also vary in their ability to be recycled. Paper and card-based products, for example, are compostable and are also recyclable. By contrast, Biopolymer and Bio-plastic products classed as compostable are not recyclable.

What are the advantages of biodegradable food packaging?

One of the main benefits of biodegradable packaging is the relative ease with which it can be successfully broken down – particularly in contrast with compostable packaging requiring specialist industrial equipment – which is typically in short supply. In addition, through the use of bioplastics and other sustainable materials, biodegradable food packaging often carrier a lower carbon footprint than traditional packaging manufactured from plastics and other chemicals.

What are the disadvantages of biodegradable food packaging?

Biodegradable food packaging is not without its limitations, however. While biodegradable packaging can successful break down without the use of specialist machinery, this process can still be lengthy. Also, while specialist equipment is not necessarily needed, some biodegradable items will still need to be be processed in a suitable environment to assist in the end-of-life process. For example, biodegradable packaging that is not properly disposed of and becomes litter can take a far greater period of time to successfully decompose. In addition, some biodegradable products can leave behind harmful substances and gases as they break down into the environment.

Other useful resources on biodegradable food packaging

HM Government: ‘Standards for bio-based, biodegradable, and compostable plastics’ Visit resource
Biffa: ‘Recyclable, Compostable, Biodegradable: What do these mean for our planet?’ Visit resource
Bio-based and biodegradable industries association. Visit resource

Sustainability expertise

At Westpak, we pride ourselves on being true experts in sustainability. Part of this expertise lies in our understanding that sustainability is a highly complex topic driven by various considerations from stakeholders across businesses. To effectively assess these requirements, it’s essential to have a comprehensive understanding of the latest terminology, developments and principles that underlie the broader sustainability movement. Our new sustainability hub offers detailed explorations of various sustainability issues, from commonly asked questions around recycling through to definitions and defining properties for a range of sustainability terms and materials.

The latest sustainability news

We also regularly provide updates on the industry’s latest sustainability breakthroughs including initiatives from a range of grocery retailers and foodservice brands. Click on the link below to keep up to date with our sustainability news feed featuring updates on recycling practices and facilities, plastic reduction, waste avoidance, material technology and other key innovations.

Get In Touch

Our team are on hand to discuss your business’s unique needs, balancing core business objectives and efficiencies with an expertise in environmental awareness. Contact us today on 01322 284455 or by emailing [email protected].

Westpak Group Ltd, 2024   |   Bold Thinking, Reliable Execution

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Westpak Group Ltd, 2022
Bold Thinking, Reliable Execution