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New Leadership for the National Compostable Plastics Task Force


11/24/2014 4:39 PM

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At the recent US Composting Council (USCC) Annual Conference in Oakland California, Matt Cotton (pictured) of Integrated Waste Management, and Rhodes Yepsen of Novomont, were “inaugurated” as co-chairs of the USCC Compostable Plastics Task Force.  Started three years ago attempting to answer the simple question, “Is this cup compostable?”, the Task Force now provides an organizational structure to help impact the development of the compostable plastics industry so that the materials benefit the composting industry through increased organic waste capture, without adding undue burdens including non-compostability of materials and added residue disposal.

Since the first Compostable Plastics Symposium in San Jose in January 2011, the Task Force has developed a robust conversation that involves a diverse group of stakeholders including plastics producers, product manufacturers, purchasers and consumers of compostable plastic products, recycling and organics recovery program managers, and composters.  As a committee of the USCC, the Task Force will encourage composters to add their voice to the conversation so that end-of-life impacts can be considered as decisions are made about compostable plastics.

The unique experiment that was undertaken at the 2011 Symposium, was the development of working groups that would meet between the annual conferences and continue to discuss the topics, and take on actions items that would be reported on at the subsequent Annual Conference. Examples of these action items include the Compostable Plastics White paper, the Labeling guidelines, Field Testing Guidelines, and the Compostable Plastics Toolkit.  The three working groups meeting regularly are:    

  • Labeling, identification and consumer outreach/education, Chaired by Jack Macy from the City of San Francisco, and Bridget Anderson from New York City, and Tool kit coordinator Jeff Krump from San Jose, CA
  • Legislation and Enforcement, facilitated by Justin Gast from Washington County, OR
  • Compostability Standards and Operation Impacts, co-facilitated by Michele Riggs from Cedar Grove Composting, Seattle WA and Hilary Near from Cascadia Consulting, San Jose, CA

The Task Force provides a great opportunity for stakeholders from all parts of the value cycle to share ideas, challenges, and solutions to reap the benefit of compostable plastics, and protect the compost industry from unintended consequences of non-compostable plastics.  As a crazy conspirator in this process, I am thrilled that the Task Force has become established such that it will continue to provide a valuable input into the industry.  Please consider joining one of the Task Force Working Groups, and adding your voice to the ongoing story of Compostable Plastics in the US. 

Cheers, and thanks for the wonderful journey.  

Michele Young – Departing Chair