Latest blog

A short guide to understanding compostable packaging

compostable packaging soil

Using more environmentally friendly packaging is often on the agenda when many businesses develop their sustainability strategies. So, how do you know which packaging is best for your business and the environment?

It can be tricky to navigate the increasing number of eco-friendly packaging products on the market. A lot of environmental terminology is interchanged and not all packaging products are created equal.

One of the most popular requests we get is for compostable packaging. To help demystify it, we’ve put together this short guide to understanding compostable packaging…

What does compostable mean?

Compostable products are made from natural materials, like starch, sugar, or wood fibres. When they compost via the action of naturally micro-organisms they will decompose fully without producing toxic residue.

It’s worth noting that not all packaging products labelled biodegradable will be compostable. For more information click here.

How can I tell if my packaging is compostable?

If you want to know if any packaging you use or are thinking about using is compostable, you should check with your packaging provider and assess any compostable marks or logos on your packing materials.

Compostable materials will have been certified to EU standard EN13432. The requirements stipulate the specific environment that a material will breakdown in. It’s important to make sure you know if your packaging is industrially compostable or home compostable as there is a difference:


  • Industrially compostable – to be classified as industrially compostable, a material must meet the basic EN13432 requirements. These requirements stipulate a specific environment that the packaging will breakdown in, such as 58°C temperatures – much hotter than your average allotment compost heap! So, in essence, industrial composting needs to take place in a controlled facility. Ultimately, this means end users cannot compost this at home, so the product can still end up in regular waste streams and landfill. Not as eco-friendly as it first seems, is it?


  • Home compostable – when a packaging material is labelled as home compostable, it means it will break down in conditions that are created in home compost heaps. These include 90% of the materials breaking down with in 12 months at temperature of 20-30°C.

compostable packaging logos

Vincotte’s OK Compost HOME mark and the Din Certo Seedling logo that certified industrial composability


Can I recycle my compostable packaging?

This will depend entirely on the material that your packaging is composed of and your local authority recycling services.

Cardboard is one of the most widely used packaging products – it is both compostable and recyclable. In contrast, other compostable packaging products like bio-plastic (e.g. where it’s made from starch or sugar), can’t be recycled as it can contaminate traditional plastic recycling streams.

Support with sustainable packaging 

Our team can help you navigate all the environmental buzzwords and support your sustainable packaging strategy. Ask us for support in making an informed choice when it comes to your packaging and the environment: email or call 01902 496 666.