Co-op compostable 5p bag

Source: Co-op

Co-op’s compostable carrier bag

More than eight out of 10 consumers support banning conventional plastic where a compostable alternative is available, according to new research.

A YouGov survey of 1,734 UK adults found widespread support for compostable packaging, with 85% backing a ban on any conventional plastic it could replace.

The survey – commissioned by compostable packaging manufacturer Tipa – also found 70% of people viewed a product more positively when packaged in compostable packaging.

The findings come weeks after a high-profile decision by online retailer Abel & Cole to stop using compostable plastic over doubts about its true compostability. The online retailer cited University College London research suggesting there was a lack of public awareness that compostable plastic required specialised processing and should not simply be left for collection with food waste or recycling.

Tipa’s YouGov survey found 89% of respondents supported local authorities being required to collect all compostable packaging from households, as well as recycling and food waste.

Read more: Wrap defends industry’s use of ‘confusing’ compostable plastic

Most local authorities are not equipped to process compostable plastic and almost half in England do not currently collect food waste, according to circular economy NGO Wrap.

Yet compostable plastic plays a key role in Wrap’s UK Plastics Pact, with signatories including the UK’s biggest supermarkets committing to make 100% of plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

Tipa said its survey showed the government should invest more in creating the infrastructure needed to process compostable plastic at scale.

“It is encouraging to see such public support for compostables, but without government investment and the appropriate policy frameworks, the required collection infrastructure is unlikely to be in place to respond to overwhelming consumer appetite to mainstream compostable packaging,” said Tipa co-founder and CEO Daphna Nissenbaum.

“The findings of this poll confirm that Defra would command broad public support if it introduced a new effective policy mandating the collection of compostable packaging alongside food waste across England to ensure that materials are composted at end of life.”