BioPak releases pulp-based compostable lids


How a care package of compostable lids shipped to 15,000 cafés around Australia is a testament to the sustainable change BioPak seeks to make.

Recyclable, plastic free and biodegradable’ coffee cups are among the common terms used to validate a company’s commitment to the environment.

However, when used without accordance to state and national legislature, these statements can contribute to greenwashing, in which false or misleading claims are made about the environmental benefits of products.

According to Gary Smith, Chief Executive Officer of BioPak, a sustainable packaging manufacturer, it’s important businesses understand the differences in each terminology and use them appropriately to build trust with customers.

“Greenwashing is a serious issue that can undermine the efforts of companies and individuals who are genuinely committed to sustainability,” Gary says.

“We encourage consumers to look for clear and verifiable evidence of environmental claims before making purchasing decisions, and to support companies that are transparent and honest about the environmental impact of their products.”

Gary says titles such as recyclability, biodegradability, plastic-free, compostable, renewable/recyclable and sustainably sourced, can often be used to sell packaging as a sustainable option.

“Currently, however, no paper cups – regardless of lining material – are accepted for recycling in kerbside paper recycling streams in Australia,” Gary says.

“This is based on the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation – Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Portal (PREP) tool that verifies what packaging is and isn’t recyclable in close consultation with the recycling industry.”

Further still, he says the bulk of single-use coffee cups within Australia have polystyrene lids, but certified compostable bioplastic and plant fibre lid options are widely available for purchase.

“It is natural for cups to go to compost, where the complicated separation of the lid, cup, coffee and sugar, is not required. The whole cup can be composted in the one bin,” Gary says.

“We, however, need councils, composters, and the government to align in the acceptance of foodservice packaging in the compost. It works incredibly well in Adelaide, for example.”

BioPak has developed pulp-based compostable lids, which behave in the same way as typical polystyrene lids when it comes to usability, and can be composted after use.

“They don’t transfer taste and have clips on the lip of the lid to prevent it from coming loose from the cup,” Gary says.

“They are plastic-free and certified home compostable. We are confident these lids will be a gamer changer for the cups market.”

The sample package of compostable lids, distributed by BioPak to 15,000 cafés across Australia, contain 10 small lids and 10 large lids, allowing businesses to see first hand that there are pulp compostable lids that work.

“We’re sending these out to show people that we have been able to make this technology work, and that they are just as functional as plastic lids. Home compostable single-use cups and lids are the solution,” Gary says.

He believes certified home compostable cups will resonate with environmentally- conscious customers.

Gary says while the industry has demanded a swath of transparency and traceability when it comes to sourcing green beans and the process of growing coffee, the same transparency should be applied to the producers of single-used cups.

“Both suppliers and customers should look at sustainability from all perspectives, like end-of-life solutions, ethical standards of production, environmental practices of the facility, and the sustainable certifications of the raw materials used,” he says.

“The industry needs to move towards holistic sustainability, instead of chasing the title of ‘sustainability’ to sell products.

“Be transparent. Use credible certifications. Avoid vague or misleading language. Provide detailed information. Set measurable goals.”

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This article appears in the June 2023 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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