Denttabs is part of the first corporate initiative on compostable packaging in Germany: Die Initiative Kreislaufverpackung
In Germany alone, 18.7 million tons of packaging waste are produced every year - with enormous damage to the climate and the environment. We have been fighting this mountain of packaging waste for a long time and are constantly working on more sustainable packaging solutions. After all, we see ourselves as a company that lives true ecological responsibility.
We are not alone in this self-image. The companies RAPUNZEL Naturkost, samova, SONNENTOR, and the nu company also want sustainable packaging that is environmentally friendly from material creation to disposal. And since it is a well-known fact that together we are strongest, we have been bundling our commitment in the Circular Packaging Initiative since spring 2020. This is the first corporate initiative on compostable packaging in Germany.
All members of the initiative already use compostable packaging for their products and believe in its importance in terms of sustainability - for example, this type of packaging is subject to strict heavy metal limits and its ingredients are harmless to plant growth. But although compostable packaging has been on the market for more than twenty years, its full ecological potential is still not being exploited. We want to change that.
Advantages of compostable packaging
A first major step towards ecologically sound disposal of compostable packaging
For almost a year, the initiative Kreislaufverpackung held discussions with waste management companies, manufacturers, distributors and material experts and gathered knowledge about the disposal of bioplastics and the like. The initiative published the findings in the freely available report "Entsorgung kompostierbarer Verpackungen in Deutschland - Betrachtung der verschiedenen Entsorgungswege" in May 2021. In addition, a literature review supports the findings and possible solutions are presented. To date, there has been no bundled consideration of the disposal of compostable packaging in Germany from a company perspective.
As a fundamental challenge, compostable packaging was found to be designed for industrial composting. In reality, however, this does not even happen, as the only way to get there is through the organic waste garbage can, and this is blocked by law for packaging of all kinds.
Disposers also have little confidence in compostable packaging, which has been certified according to the EN 13432 standard since the mid-1990s, because the standard no longer corresponds to the way it is handled today. This is because compostable packaging is only given two weeks to decompose completely. The standard requires twelve weeks.
Surprisingly, the organic garbage can is not the most sustainable disposal route. Suppose compostable packaging were to be permitted for the organic waste garbage can. In that case, disposal companies fear that the visual similarity to plastic packaging would lead to more plastic in the garbage can. The result could be microplastics in the compost, which would harm the environment.
Currently, compostable packaging is thermally recycled in Germany via all disposal channels, i.e., incinerated. The initiative nevertheless considers disposal via the yellow garbage can to be the most ecological approach at present - even if the packaging is not composted in this way. This is because packaging can be sorted using a wide variety of technologies that can be expanded, and the organic waste garbage can remains free of plastic. The initiative sees the potential in the disposal route via the yellow garbage can recycle or compost in a controlled manner in the future, depending on the material.
Many paths to follow
For now, if we dispose of all our compostable packaging via the yellow garbage can, we are helping to keep the compost clean. In the future, we hope that compostable packaging can be recycled or composted.
With this report, the Circular Packaging Initiative would like to provide an initial basis for further debate on the ecologically sound disposal of compostable packaging and encourage the further pursuit of the solutions mentioned in the report.
We will not be able to do this alone. Therefore, we hope for interest in an exchange with innovation-interested and passionate stakeholders from science, waste and materials management, retail and other industries.
The complete report can be read here:
If you would like to get in touch with the initiative, don't hesitate to get in touch with us here:
c/o Samira Tanko
Your Denttabs Team