Home Compostable Plastics Dont Work

Our new research paper published in the journal Frontiers in Sustainability is based on a 2 year citizen science study on home compostable plastics. We engaged with 9,701 UK citizens geographically spread across the UK to examine their capability, opportunity, and motivation to do this. Of this cohort 1,648 citizens performed home compost experiments to test the environmental performance of compostable plastics. We report on the type of plastics they tested and their disintegration under real home composting conditions. The results show that the public are confused about the meaning of the labels of compostable and biodegradable plastics. 14% of sampled plastic packaging items tested were certified “industrial compostable” only and 46% had no compostable certification. Of the biodegradable and compostable plastics tested under different home composting conditions, the majority did not fully disintegrate, including 60% of those that were certified “home compostable.” We conclude that for both of these reasons, home composting is not an effective or environmentally beneficial waste processing method for biodegradable or compostable packaging in the UK. Read the full paper here.

Big Repair Project

We have launched the Big Repair Project to study the lifetime of appliances and electronics in peoples’ lives. Currently repair is on the decline in many economies which is accelerating climate change and producing mountains of waste. We need to urgently reverse this trend to design for repair and make appliances and electronics to last much longer, eg. smartphone to last 10 years, washing machines 30 years. This change will be as much social, cultural and economic as it is technological. The Big Repair Project allows citizens to get involved in how they want this change to happen. Get involved here.

Illustration of people repairing items