But is it recyclable?
There’s a huge discrepancy between how consumers believe recycling works and the system that actually exists. Companies need to do better. If you’re like most American consumers, the term compostable plastic evokes images of plastic bags and packaging gently decomposing into dirt over the course of a few months.
It’s reasonable to think this kind of packaging is eco-friendly, based on what we know about composting. In fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s a huge discrepancy between how consumers believe recycling and composting work, and the system that actually exists. While problematic, it represents an opportunity for brands to meet consumers where they are and provide packaging that functions as consumers already believe it does.
In a recent survey conducted by Smart Design, respondents ranked compostable plastics as a more sustainable material than recycled plastic or paper fiber.
Unfortunately, compostable plastic breaks down only under the specific heat and moisture conditions of an industrial composting facility—a fact that only 22% of people we surveyed were aware of. Toss a compostable plastic bag into a landfill or composting bin, come back a year later, and you’ll find . . . plastic.