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Is Compostable Packaging the Next Step in Sustainability?

Is Compostable Packaging the Next Step in Sustainability?

As ubiquitous as it has become, plastic packaging is one of the biggest waste streams of the packaged food and beverage industry. Since most of the increasingly popular plastic pouches on the market today are non-recyclable, they simply end up in oceans or landfills and can emit harmful methane gas for years to come.

But craft-foods company Alter Eco wants to change that with the launch of its new Gone4Food plant-based pouches, which are designed to decompose within three to six months. Made from birch and eucalyptus wood pulp, non-GMO corn, and non-toxic ink printing, the compostable pouches now enclose Alter Eco’s line of organic heirloom quinoa products.

“Our new pouches give consumers a more sustainable option that doesn’t negatively impact our planet, all with the same convenience of existing food products,” said Mathieu Senard, co-founder and co-CEO, Alter Eco, in a launch announcement.

 

Can It Be Recycled?

Though the compostable pouches may be better for the environment than conventional plastic packaging, Senard told Nutritional Outlook that Gone4Good pouches should not be recycled because they are not suited for the current U.S. recycling infrastructure.

“Although the pouch is made from plant-based materials, there are a couple of reasons why we do not recommend recycling the pouch with paper or cardboard,” Senard explained. “One, the layers are made of two different materials, non-GMO corn and trees, and would be a challenge to mechanically separate. Two, the ratio of film thickness and paperboard is large enough that it would cause issues in standardized paper recycling systems.”

However, infrastructure of green, compostable bins is expanding across the country, Senard noted.

As to the cost of the Gone4Good packaging, Senard said the price is currently higher than conventional plastic pouches, but Alter Eco hopes the cost “will go down in the future as more and more companies start using these materials.”

The new pouches first hit store shelves in January.

 

Read more:

Dietary Supplement Packaging: Pouch Power

Pouch Packaging Innovation at Natural Products Expo West

 

Michael Crane
Associate Editor
Nutritional Outlook Magazine
michael.crane@ubm.com

 
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