Olympics must create legacy for compostable packaging

Plant-based packaging is set to play a major role at London 2012 but it will be for nothing if brand owners and waste companies fail to build on this opportunity, a leading Olympics advisor has warned.

Compostable bio-packaging will be rolled out across the Olympic Park’s food outlets when the games kick off in the capital next month, but bioeconomy consultant NNFCC argues that a lasting environmental legacy for the fast food and catering trade must be created long after the event has ended.

The call comes as a new voluntary agreement to cut food and packaging waste in the hospitality and foodservice sector is launched today (June 27). Major signatories such as Domino’s Pizza, McDonald’s and Greggs have pledged to act on this.

NNFFC head of material Dr John Williams says that compostable packaging is ideal for events like the Olympics, because packaging contaminated with food can be composted together, helping to cut waste and generate revenue.

Materials getting a green makeover will include fast food wrappers, sandwich boxes and drink cartons. These materials will be compliant with EN 13432, the agreed European Standard for compostability, and will be suitable for treatment by an in-vessel composter or potentially an anaerobic digester.

However Dr William warns that while this is a great achievement in itself, the key will be to maintain the momentum and build on the success of the games, while recognising where things can be improved for future events.

This could involve developing guidelines which could be applied to other events in the future, he added.

Maxine Perella

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