The South African Initiative to End Plastic Waste, through the Biodegradable and Compostable Packaging Working Group, recently completed a process to evaluate the landscape with respect to the integration of biodegradable and compostable packaging in South Africa.

The objectives of this assessment are two-fold:

  • To provide a balanced perspective and consolidated view of the South African context with regard to biodegradable and compostable packaging, based on sound research and stakeholder inputs.
  • To be used to inform players across the value chain, as well as other interested stakeholders around the responsible manufacture, use, management and disposal of biodegradable and compostable packaging.

The assessment paper focuses specifically on the country’s current capacity to responsibly integrate these materials into the existing packaging economy and looks to provide direction on what is required going forward.  The appendix, “Material types and applications”, highlights the raw material sources, manufacturing process, properties of the polymers, range of applications and end of life fate.

The paper is based on an extensive review of academic literature, relevant international standards and engagement with academics and many key stakeholders across the value chain, including manufacturers, importers and distributors of the materials, retailers and brand owners, recyclers and commercial composters.

The Working Group also prepared a short information brochure on key considerations for biodegradable and compostable packaging.  This brochure contains an overview of things to consider before introducing biodegradable products into South Africa, a short summary of existing South African legislation and standards relating to biodegradable products and a summary of biodegradable certifications and labelling.