At decent packaging, we recognise the world is facing a global waste crisis. That’s why we strongly believe that dealing with our products’ end of life is just as important as our fit-for-purpose design for customers.
Despite everyone’s best efforts, most plastics are not recycled, landfills are full of food waste, and inconsistencies in waste management infrastructure is causing major confusion. We see this waste crisis as a multi-faceted problem that requires a multi-faceted solution. Compostable packaging is just one part of that solution, and if we all collaborate, we can succeed. Luckily, we’ve already got some local legends paving the way in commercial composting.
We've team up with cafes and restaurants across London to produce the first public-facing compost collection for both food waste and compostable packaging. The objective is to help decent packaging customers and the public divert more of their takeaway compostable packaging away from landfills.
We’ve taken the complication out of where your compostable packaging goes and created ‘The Full Package’ in collaboration with First Mile, which encourages the collection and disposal of compostable packaging correctly.
We caught up with First Mile
founder Bruce Bratley who has been ‘Breaking It Down
’ since 2004 with the mission to revolutionise business sustainability, starting with waste and recycling.
Hello Bruce! Here’s an easy question to begin with: How do you start each day?
Lots of black coffee and I do most of my social posting at this time. I am super productive in the morning, so try to get loads done.
What's the hardest or most challenging part of running First Mile?
Waste, by its very nature, is not measured and a key challenge is getting data on waste volumes, recycling levels, contamination and customer behaviour. The sector is also moving quickly, which sometimes makes it difficult to measure success.
Are there any big barriers to composting on the scale you do that would make it hard for other individuals or community organisations to do what you do?
Compostable packaging needs to go through the right process before it is composted, otherwise it is removed with non-compostable packaging and incinerated, so there are a lot of challenges. Equally, most compostable packaging is not suitable for uncontrolled home composting.
Have you seen much change in the public interest in composting since you started?
There’s been a massive amount of interest in compostable packaging since Blue Planet highlighted the problem of plastics persisting in the environment. Most of our customers are asking about compostable now. Three years ago it was barely mentioned.
If you could give a few tips to people trying their hand at composting food scraps and packaging at home, what would it be?
Make sure the composting is suitable for home composting. The main tip for home composting is to make sure you have the conditions for aerobic digestion (plenty of airflow and regular turning of the compost). If you don’t you’ll end up with anaerobic digestion, which produces methane and your home compost will be like a mini landfill site contributing to global warming. Methane is 30 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas.
What does the future look like for First Mile, and for composting/waste in general?
First Mile’s future looks great, and we have lots of exciting new initiatives
to launch later this year. Composting has a great future, but we need to make sure it is used appropriately and with the right recycling and disposal facilities in place.
Any parting words of wisdom or advice for eco-conscious people and communities?
We have so much work to be if we are going to overcome the climate emergency, and it is going to be messy. The key thing is to keep making progress with habit changes and habits change when small actions are remembered and become hard-wired. If you are eco-conscious you are doing more than most, so don’t expect everyone to maintain your standards today. Try to get others to make a small change that becomes habitual and sticks, not something that happens once and then old behaviour reverts. We’ve got into this mess with billions of people making billions of bad decisions we need to get out of it with billions of people making billions of good decisions.
to get set up with a Full Package bin. To arrange a collection with First Mile email firstname.lastname@example.org and quote 'The Full Package project'.
decent packaging are providing plant-based compostible cups and packaging throughout the Festival. decent pacaking are working with First Mile to collect and compost this waste as part of The London Coffee Festival's 'Compost' sustainability scheme.