Determined to make a change in the way consumers use single-use plastics, Jon Reed set his sights on certified home-compostable plastic alternatives traditionally found in the kitchen: Cling Wrap and Resealable Storage Bags.
Founded by Reed in 2018, Compostic spent years developing products that provide the same functionality as traditional plastic wraps and resealable bags with the capability of breaking down in home compost at the end of the product's useful life.
"I set out to develop a sustainable product that would mimic the convenience of plastic variants, making it easy for consumers to convert away from plastic," he says. "Compostic is driven by its mission to eradicate plastics from our lives, providing 100% home compostable kitchen plastics that are entirely zero-waste, from the products to the packaging. Our long-term goal is to remove the need for consumers to use any traditional plastic products in their homes."
Made from a blend of biopolymers, Compostic's Cling Wrap and Resealable Bags also are vegan friendly, FDA-approved, BPA-free, non-GMO and non-toxic. The Cling Wrap's packaging is free from any metal or plastic cutters, features soy-based inks and comes in a recyclable and compostable box. The wrap incorporates pre-perforated markings for seamless use, according to the company.
In a Q&A with Waste360, Reed discussed the product's debut in New Zealand and talked about how quality and sustainability are driving Compostic's newest innovations.
Waste360: What drove the idea behind the design for Compostic wrap/resealable bags? Why plastic wrap and resealable bags?
Reed: There was so much media attention on businesses switching away from plastic bags when the New Zealand government announced a ban on single-use plastic bags. We asked ourselves, but what about the plastic people use every day at home?
How are they going to be able to remove plastic from their lives? It’s not as easy for consumers to do it at home without an easy alternative available to them, and businesses are only half of the plastic problem.
So we started talking closely to consumers - what products do they find really useful in their homes, but perhaps felt guilty for using because of the plastic? We were constantly told the same thing; cling wrap and resealable storage bags. So it felt like the obvious place to start. From the beginning, we’ve always strived to solve problems for consumers with simple and sustainable solutions.
Waste360: How much plastic wrap/bags will this save from landfills each year?
Reed: In New Zealand alone we use over 119,000 km of cling wrap each year - that’s enough to wrap the circumference of the world three times - and NZ’s population is just 5 million people. The ultimate goal for us is to provide sustainable solutions to all household products in the long term, eventually removing the need for any household plastics to go to the landfill, and in doing so we hope we can inspire and encourage changes to our waste management systems as well.
Waste360: Can you please explain the process behind the design of this plastic wrap/bags? What kind of research and development went into designing something that could be discarded in home compost?
Reed: We spent over three years working on the cling film in particular. A lot of work has gone into this space already over the last 20 years, so we were able to start testing with materials that were already available at times. The difficulty was refining the compounds into something that mimicked and then improved the function of traditional cling wrap products.
How many days will it take for these items to break down in home compost?
Reed: Both the Cling Wrap and Resealable Bags will break down in a home composting environment in just 12-24 weeks, which is quicker than an orange peel!
Waste360: Were these any difficulties or challenges behind designing and bringing to scale a food wrap/bags that are FDA approved, BPA-free, non-GMO and non-toxic and comes in 100% recyclable and compostable packaging?
Reed: There were a lot of difficulties and it wasn’t a short process. We wanted to be 100% sustainable so it was really important to us that we went through all of these processes and didn’t cut any corners along the way.
One of the more difficult tasks was actually creating packaging that had a strong presence on shelf, but was recyclable, compostable, and used compostable inks which was a real test. We’re also a zero-waste product and refused to consider using a plastic cutter like other products, so we had to think about how to make our wrap as functional as possible for the consumer. The perforations tested really well with people, and by the end of it we felt we had made an improvement on the original plastic versions.
Waste360: What opportunities do these new wrap/resealable bags provide the consumer on their zero waste/plastic reduction journey?
Reed: Compostic Cling Wrap and Resealable Bags are certified 100% home compostable, so consumers are able to compost the materials in their own backyard or in other home-composting environments. Additionally, the products’ packaging is free from any metal or plastic cutters and features sustainable soy-based inks. Therefore, the box is also both recyclable and compostable, resulting in an entirely zero-waste product.
It’s also imperative to us that the final products perform well, we call them ‘performance compostables’.
We want to make the switch from plastic to compostic as easy as possible for our customers, and we knew that if they didn’t perform to the level of the products that they were already using then people would get frustrated and go back to plastic. That in itself isn’t sustainable. Trying to reduce your waste at home isn’t easy for busy households. Compostic gives consumers a really simple swap out that doesn’t sacrifice any convenience or functionality.
Waste360: How has the consumer response/feedback been to date?
Reed: Overwhelmingly positive. It’s been really amazing and quite emotional to receive the amount of messages of support and love from our communities. People are also really loving the pre-perforated portions which make the cling wrap super easy to use - without a sharp cutter on the box, even the kids are getting involved in packing their own lunches!
Waste360: How do you think laws governing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) such as the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act will spur packaging innovation for common household items such as plastic wrap and resealable bags?
Reed: I think local legislation will play a really important role in the future of our environment. However, the power actually lies with the individual.
The benefit of social media is that it spreads messages quickly, and every individual has the ability to share that information with their whole community both on and offline. The environmental movement was started by the public pressuring local governments to take action. By supporting sustainable products and services, you are making a big contribution to the future of our planet.
Waste360: Where can consumers find these household alternatives?
Reed: You can find Compostic’s performance compostables on Amazon, Walmart.com and at compostic.co. We hope to grow our distribution across the States as quickly as possible, so if you want to see us in your local area then let them know and follow our progress by subscribing to our monthly newsletter or following our social media pages.
Waste360: What’s next for Compostic? Where do you see your company going in the next 3-5 years as consumers demand sustainable alternatives?
Reed: As I mentioned before, our goal is to eradicate plastic entirely from our homes and we have a lot of exciting things in the pipeline (most of which are confidential at this stage!). We also want to hear from and engage with our customers and communities.