The transition is complete, and our fruit and veg packaging (bags, punnets, nets) is now home compostable, where packaging is needed at all.
We have always used minimal plastic (in 2020, our veg boxes used 82 per cent less plastic than supermarket organic veg), but we do need some plastic-like materials to retain moisture and so prevent food waste. Unlike ‘degradable’ plastics (which are often a source of long-term microplastic pollution) or even some ‘compostable’ plastics (which may require the high temperatures of industrial composters to break down), our home compostable materials biodegrade completely into CO2, water and organic matter within a year, even at low temperatures.
Arguably, recyclable could be a better option – but depressingly, only around seven per cent of plastic bags are actually recycled, and there seems little hope of change to our disjointed national recycling system any time soon. According to our survey, a staggering 82.5 per cent of our customers compost at home, which is why we chose this route.
If you’re a composter, just add the packaging to your home compost heap, or your compost bin if your local authority accepts it. If not, you can leave it out with your veg box. We will compost it, along with our veg waste and wood chips, to feed next year’s crops. Please don’t add it to your general waste, or worse, your plastic recycling – this is our biggest worry, as it would degrade the recycled plastic.
The bags are made from sustainably managed wood, non-GM corn and sugarcane. It has been a long journey to develop and test the material; in the end, we could not get the properties needed to prevent food waste without including a small amount of oil-based material, but this does not stop it from composting.
The end result costs four times more than conventional plastic, but we expect that prices will come down as more people adopt the materials (as with solar panels), and until then we will absorb the cost. Until recently, I might have argued that the money would be better spent on more solar panels, or a windmill, which directly address climate change – but such cold logic does not always lead the right way.
Plastic has become so iconic in a collective determination to address environmental issues that we had to act. In total, this change will save 21 tonnes of plastic a year.