It was good to see the news this week that following lots of discussion, certain types of certified compostable coffee cups and similar can be composted in an open-air windrow (OAW) system or other non-ABP approved system.
In reality, this is aimed at the commercial sector where a company sells certified compostable packaging to a restaurant, café or similar (user) and that the user then has as wide a choice as possible to ensure that these products are composted.
It requires joined up thinking between the seller of the packaging, the user (e.g. café), collection company and the composter to ensure that the composter has confidence that the café only places the finished coffee/drinks cups (and other approved waste) in the compostable bag and that when this is collected it is checked when picked up from the user to ensure it is compliant. The compostable bag should be easily identified to the user so in the event of any issues it can be traced back to that company. This ensures that when it is delivered to the compost site, it just needs a quick check that the EWC code is correct as 15 01 05 and that it has been collected from the nominated user and that indeed the materials are as described.
Whilst in theory several hundred cups etc. could be collected per week from a busy user, the weight will be minimal so the more complex question is how this material is collected. There are a number of ways this can be added on to existing collection rounds to provide a cost and environmentally efficient system.
Fundamentally this is a good step on the way to getting plastics out of the organic waste stream but requires effort by all parties to get it working properly. No composter wants plastic in the waste stream so anything to minimise this is to be welcomed.
Please see here for more details on the exact materials that are permitted and the certification that they must have.