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Is compostable packaging any better than single-use plastic?

by Shanti Mathias for The Spinoff | February 15, 2024

It’s made from plants, but it’s still designed to be thrown away. Here’s what it really means when your chip packet says it’s compostable.

Compostable packaging seems so straightforward. It’s made from plants. It looks like plastic. And when it’s been used – probably to move some of your food around – it dissolves back into the earth to become soil again, then plants, then plant plastic. It could be truly circular, so what’s preventing these materials from replacing other kinds of packaging?

“The last six or seven years has seen a massive boom of compostable packaging, which are great solutions from the perspective of customer experience and safety,” says Kim Renshaw, founder of Beyond the Bin and member of Waste MINZ, an industry group for waste and resource recover organisations, including composters. She’s been paying keen attention to the number of things you might see in the supermarket tagged “compostable”. “The problem is that they are only compostable in a specific environment,” she says. 

Countdown not living up to 'Bag for Good' tote bargain

by Carolyn Robinson for Fair Go | October 30, 2023

“… Kim Renshaw is a proponent of reusable bags but she said the type of bag should be considered carefully by retailers.

“I think it would be the most responsible thing for a retailer to be providing bags that won’t break in the first place,” she said.

“What we really need are durable bags made of thoughtful materials, that are light on the planet, and light on emissions in terms of their construction.”

She said she wasn’t surprised Goddard’s bag broke.

“Joan’s bags are not reparable — they’re not built to be reparable.”

Renshaw said the bags are made from a woven polypropylene, which is “lightweight and not very robust in its construction”…”

WOMAD festival

Stuff: More research into where compostable takeaway cups and lids can be composted

The Packaging Forum has commissioned an analysis of disposable cups in New Zealand for a new study on where compostable cups and lids can be composted. Beyond the Bin, which was aiming to get 80 per cent of all events to be composting event waste, will conduct the research.

WOMAD festival

Gisborne Herald: On the zero-waste path

PLATES and bowls made out of potatoes, cups from plants, and recycling stations for everything else.

“That is what we should be working towards at events and festivals,” said Kim Renshaw, founder of Beyond The Bin, an initiative to encourage other event managers to ascribe to the “zero-waste” vision.

WOMAD festival

NZ Herald: Waste not want not at WOMAD

… Festival organisers provided 146 tickets for volunteers, who dutifully ran the waste stations around the site and removed the relatively small amount that people dropped throughout the weekend. This involved separating materials for composting and recycling, with a goal of diverting over 80 per cent from landfill.

The initiative was run by impressive social enterprise Beyond the Bin, who have…

Research for The Packaging Forum: The availability of NZ composters to process compostable packaging including coffee cups

Bay of Plenty times

Bay News: Bay waste team takes Womad Beyond the Bin

Beyond the Bin is a social enterprise that grew from Kim Renshaw’s work at Mount Maunganui’s zero-waste Gourmet Night Market, combined with the talents of equally passionate waste manager Sam Gray.

Element Magazine: Kim Renshaw, The Zero Waste Event Champion

By Adam Gifford

Kim Renshaw describes herself as super-competitive. Competitive enough to don gloves every Monday morning from December to March and go through the waste generated by her Tauranga Gourmet Night Market to make sure it is 100 percent compostable.

That experience has morphed into Beyond The Bin, an initiative aimed at getting other event managers to buy into the zero waste vision…

National Radio: Kim Renshaw interviewed by Lynn Freeman

Check out Kim’s interview on Radio New Zealand’s Easter Monday programme in March 2016