Which Food and Beverage Packaging Is Better, Recyclable or Compostable?

Which Food and Beverage Packaging Is Better, Recyclable or Compostable?
Authored By Eva

Many companies and people are looking into biodegradable and recyclable packaging as a result of growing awareness of the negative impact of single-use plastic on the environment. Although it is simple to mistakenly believe that these 2 types of packaging materials are comparable, they are not. We will analyze the differences between the two packaging styles to help determine which is best for your food and beverage packaging needs.

Compostable packaging paper



Compostable packaging paper consists of natural, largely biodegradable stuff that will decompose into nutrients that help soil grow, leaving no microplastic trash behind. Instead of being disposed of in landfills, these products are designed to be broken down at home or in specialized facilities where they're converted into something good for the environment.

The biodegradable method has emerged as an ideal solution to single-use plastics, and the technology is being adopted rapidly. However, to be considered biodegradable, a material must decompose within a 6-month timeframe.

Advantages of compostable packaging paper include:

           Minimize your carbon impact on the environment.

           Re-usable, adaptable, and sustainable.

           It's simple to get rid of.

           Enhancing the image of your brand.

           Cost-effective shipping.

           It reduces the usage of single-use plastics.

           Helps cut costs.

           Expanding your clientele.

           Cleaner waters and fertile lands.

However, when put into a typical recycling container, biodegradable items are not yet recyclable and can compromise the recycling process. Sure, some compostable paper packaging can be composted at home, but many require special facilities that may not be easy to locate, leaving consumers struggling.

Some biodegradable materials also break down into microplastics that are harmful to the soil and delicate ecosystems and therefore rejected by public municipalities. Recyclable PET, therefore, continues to be the most widely used environmental-friendly packaging solution.

Recyclable Plastic



Recyclable plastic food packaging is constructed from materials that can be turned into new products once the packaging's useful life has ended. Since practically all plastics are non-biodegradable and accumulate in landfills where they might be harmful, recycling is essential.

Typical recycling methods include remelting and reforming, as well as feedstock recycling, in which used plastic is broken down into its original ingredients and then reprocessed into new plastic. Feedstock recycling can reduce the need for dumping sites, conserve resources, and safeguard the environment from greenhouse gases and plastic pollution.

If you decide to go with recyclable packaging, whether kraft paper or PET, it's crucial that you choose the best to stand out from your competitors.

Recyclable food packaging has advantages that include

           Keeps food and beverages good for longer.

           Excellent branding and presentation features.

           It makes it easy to transport products because plastic is more durable and can withstand slight trauma or falls without getting damaged. Plastic packages can be stacked atop each other for easy transportation.

           It helps conserve natural resources because of its reusability.

           Cleaner waters and fertile soils.

           It reduces dependence on fossil fuels.

           Reduces environmental pollution and thus promotes sustainable lifestyles.

Even though plastic can be recycled, it is estimated that approximately 91 percent of the plastic currently in use worldwide has never been reprocessed. Plastic packaging that ends up in landfills can take thousands of years to disintegrate on its own.

Moreover, poisons enter the soil and water and harm sensitive ecosystems as plastic molecules degrade under the sun. Additionally, the manufacture of plastic leads to environmental pollution by releasing too much CO2 into the atmosphere. Therefore, there are obvious considerations to consider when comparing compostable paper with recyclable plastics. Have a look here.

Is it better to use compostable or recyclable packaging?



When weighing between recyclable plastic and compostable paper packaging, there are several factors to consider.

Compostable Packaging



If you decide to go with compostable packaging, make sure it's easy to compost. As we already said, some compostable papers can be disposed of at home, while others require special facilities.

Home compostable packaging products don't require a unique composting procedure beyond what can be done in at-home compost bins, and thus these products will be composted as long as those who buy such products have access to home composting systems.

However, some compostable packaging needs special compost facilities, so you must be careful about offering these materials. Here's what to do:

           Provide clear labeling.

           Provide instructions

           Install a compost container at your place of business.

           Make customers aware of nearby composting facilities.

           Beware of biodegradable materials that break down into microplastics. Make sure to use compostable packaging materials accepted by public municipalities.

Recyclable Packaging



If you decide to go with recyclable packaging, make sure it's easy to recycle. Your neighborhood recycling center or council may not be equipped to reprocess every kind of recyclable material. Some recyclable packaging also comprises some non-recyclable parts and therefore requires separation before being disposed of in recyclable bins. For example, some recyclable coffee bags also feature non-recyclable plastic degas valves; these must be separated before the coffee bag can be recycled. Here's what to put in practice if you choose to use recyclable plastic packaging:

           Provide clear labeling.

           Provide instructions: Dos and don'ts about disposing of recyclable plastics as well as how to get them ready for recycling.

           Provide a recycling can at your workplace

           Use easily recyclable materials for your business's waste collection setup.


Regarding recyclable plastic packaging vs. compostable paper packaging, both options are better than single-use plastic solutions. Compostable paper can degrade into soil-building components, while recyclable plastic can be made into something new and useful. You can find packaging composed solely of recyclable plastic, compostable paper, or both. Home compostable products are preferable to commercially compostable ones.

That said, there are things to watch out for when offering these packaging options. Beware some plastic packaging containing non-recyclable materials and compostable papers that degrade into microplastics. These can seriously harm the environment, especially when they break down in the sun and release toxins into the soil and water systems.

Also, always provide clear instructions, so consumers know what to do with the packaging when done. Above all, advocate for environmentally friendly practices and persuade local authorities to prioritize environmental conservation issues on the agenda. Do your part to make planet Earth a great place for the current and future generations. QQStudio provides both compostable and recyclable packaging solutions for food, you can get custom kraft paper pouch, eco-friendly vacuum seal plastic bags, compostable zip lock bags, etc.