Compostable and biodegradable packaging

Much more packaging is being made from ‘compostable’ or ‘biodegradable’ materials. These include items such as coffee cups, takeaway food or magazine wrappers. Find out below our advice on how to deal with this material.

Coffee cups
Coffee cups

Can I recycle packaging that is labelled 'compostable' or 'biodegradable'?

Unfortunately, this packaging cannot currently be accepted in your garden waste or recycling bin. Compostable packaging does not fully breakdown in some types of composting facilities, such as in-vessel composting facilities where the composting process is much faster. It is also challenging for collection crews to distinguish between compostable and non-compostable packaging.

Some compostable packaging may breakdown in home composting systems in your garden, but we recommend checking the manufacturer’s website to see if their product is suitable for home composting.

Packaging promoted as ‘biodegradable’ is not designed to break down in a composting facility and can take up to six months or longer to break down naturally.

Compostable and biodegradable packaging should not be put in your recycling bin because they are made of different materials to the fibres found in normal paper and cardboard.

Compostable and biodegradable packaging can be put in your household refuse bin.

We are continuing to work with the waste and packaging sectors to explore ways to compost or recycle these types of packaging.

Reducing packaging

Compostable packaging is often found in single use coffee cups, takeaway food or magazine wrappers. Ditch single use items and choose reusable alternatives such as reusable coffee cups or bringing your own set of cutlery if planning to grab food on-the-go. Try viewing your magazine or brochure online rather than buying a paper copy.