Compostable packaging case study

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From plating up to potting on, putting packaging to good use

Set in the rolling hills of South Devon, on one glorious weekend in May, thousands of foodies flocked to River Cottage HQ for the annual Spring Food Fair, to sample the finest baking, cooking and grilling in the South West. However, 2016 saw one major difference, everything the food was served on or in, was compostable and sent to be transformed into soil conditioning compost at Viridor's local facility.

Vegware compostable packaging, after reuse, ready for compostingVegware plant based compostable packaging discarded after use, ready for process



In early 2016, Viridor teamed up with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in his first ‘War on Waste’ tv series, in which he worked with communities to boost recycling rates across the UK. Inspired by his commitment, we have been working with Vegware, a producer of compostable, plant-based food packaging. We wanted to know whether the Vegware plates, glasses and cutlery could simply be composted along with the food and green waste and seized the opportunity to trial this at the Food Fair

Over the course of the Spring Fair weekend alone, 680kg of used packaging and food was collected! This contributed to an overall recycling rate of 72%, which is a tremendous result. The average overall recycling rate for UK events stands at a mere 15%.

Every year across the UK, households throw away around 7 million tonnes of food waste.  Some of this is taken to facilities where it is combined with garden waste and composted to make high quality soil conditioner. The process is simple; the combined food and garden waste is shredded into an even blend, which is then placed into large enclosed tunnels. The air supply is controlled and temperatures are managed to ensure the final product is sanitised and ready for use in around eight to twelve weeks.  

River Cottage
River Cottage


Over the years, we have used our soil conditioner to create Gold Award winning garden displays at the Chelsea Flower Show and we provide farmers with a local, high-quality composted product that is used to grow vegetables for major supermarkets.

Read more about the initiative with Vegware

Read more about Viridor compost 


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