In a move that will further boost the UK’s recycling of compostable packaging, First Mile is now working with plant-based packaging specialist decent packaging. The initiative will see First Mile collecting decent packaging’s compostable packaging waste from its customers across the capital, where it will then be recycled and transformed into nutrient-rich fertiliser.

Founded in New Zealand in 2013, decent packaging uses plants to manufacture a wide range of food and drink takeaway packaging products, including coffee cups, straws, plates, cutlery and napkins. These plant-based products reduce the massive impact on energy and water consumption and polluting emissions that petroleum-based packaging have on the environment and have a clear recycling process in place.

First Mile’s dedicated compostable packaging recycling service is an industry first, launched last year to provide businesses with a tangible recycling solution in the face of the common misconception that compostable items can be thrown in general waste, mixed recycling or food waste bins to decompose.

People are often told to put compostable packaging in food waste recycling bins, but many food waste processing facilities cannot handle these items as they do not break down quickly enough in the process. They also look and feel like many regular plastic items and can mistakenly be put in mixed recycling bins, where they contaminate other materials. When added to general waste, they most likely end up in landfill, emitting damaging methane gas. And there's also the confusion between compostable and biodegradable packaging.

Bruce Bratley, First Mile’s founder and CEO, comments: “As a nation, we’re becoming increasingly environmentally-aware and the appetite for more sustainable products, such as compostable packaging, is on the rise. This in itself is great news, but it’s a futile exercise if these items aren’t properly processed at the end of their useable life to provide any environmental benefits."

Working with decent packaging means that the positive sustainability intentions of those companies investing in the use of compostable packaging can be realised, making a positive impact on our environment and helping us all to work towards our zero-waste mission.

Tony Small, managing director at decent packaging, adds: “We opened our doors for business in the UK last April, and started working with First Mile in December 2019. Since that time, our customers have diverted a significant two tonnes of packaging waste from landfill. The number taking part in the compostable packaging scheme is growing all the time, and we’re confident it won’t be long until we’re celebrating 200 tonnes.