Ingeo News: September 2022

Green Sports Alliance Launches the Food Waste Diversion and Compostable Packaging Playbook Supported by NatureWorks

August 31, 2022: Portland, OR – Today the Green Sports Alliance (GSA) launched the Food Waste Diversion and Compostable Packaging Playbook supported by its Corporate Membership Network and its member, NatureWorks.

The purpose of this playbook is to address how certified compostable food serviceware and packaging can play a vital role in sports venues, by facilitating organic waste diversion from landfills to composting facilities.

Venues and stadiums, where proper industrial composting infrastructure exists, can utilize this playbook to begin preventing single-use plastic and organic waste from accumulating in landfills and further efforts in greenhouse gas reduction. Future editions of this playbook will further explore how to expand venue logistics to implement a successful and comprehensive zero waste program to advance decarbonization goals.

The authors of this playbook are recognized by the following organizations AgRecycle, EcoProducts, Max-R, NatureWorks and WM. The Food Waste Diversion and Compostable Packaging Playbook, along with additional playbooks for implementing sustainable practices, can be downloaded at Read the press release.

Compostable Single-Serve Capsules with Flavio Di Marcotullio

Recently NatureWorks Sr. Digital Strategist, Virginia Thompson, sat down for some coffee talk with Flavio Di Marcotullio, NatureWorks Global Industry Manager. With his upcoming presentation, “Recycling, composting, mass-balance: hits and misses of the industry and the challenge of a one-size-fits-all approach,” fast approaching at the AMI Single-Serve Capsules show in Barcelona, we were happy to score some time with him and get the scoop.

Virginia Thompson: It’s great to see you, Flavio. Thanks so much for agreeing to chat.
Flavio Di Marcotullio: Great to see you, too! I’m more than happy to spend some time talking about coffee capsule market. What kinds of questions do you have?

VT: Because you’re an expert in the compostable coffee capsule market, what do you think some challenges are for a “one-size-fits-all” approach to single-serve capsules?
FDM: One attribute of the single-serve beverage market is the variety of brewing systems. Even within the same system brand (such as Nespresso or K-Cup), you will find machine types with different characteristics and behaviors. Therefore, any capsule development needs to account for such diversity and match the requirements of all the targeted brewing systems. There is additional complexity in addressing the varying specifications provided by roasters and fillers such as shelf-life, material of choice, assembling and filling line in use, etc. Just one capsule design can’t be capable of delivering consistent results across all the possible variables. Instead, I believe the only way to bring performing capsules to market is by engaging in developments with brands and ensuring the capsule is specifically manufactured to match their specific needs and outcomes.

VT: In your opinion, what are some current ‘misses’ of the industry?
FDM: Well, I’ve been involved in this market for years and I’ve heard talk about the environmental challenge for a very long time. Improvements have been achieved, but we’re still far from having a circular system in place. The industry seems to lack a consensus of how sustainability should be achieved in the single-serve market. What I find most puzzling is how most of the discussions seem to be about the material in use (plastic, bioplastic, or aluminum) and the majority of environmental claims focus either on the recyclability of the capsule or sourcing of the material itself. But we keep forgetting the actual coffee! Coffee itself can represent up to 80% of the total capsule weight, so any effort should focus first on how to entirely recover the spent coffee and make sure it is turned into compost that is used as a soil amendment.

VT: Given the complexity of this market, how important are partnerships in the supply chain for this industry?
FDM: Collaborations among industry players are absolutely key to accelerating development programs and being able to serve the industry with performing capsules. As an example, in 2021 we announced a new strategic partnership with IMA Group, a global market leader in coffee handling, processing, and packaging. That partnership has allowed both of our companies to accelerate the availability of a turn-key solution for K-Cup compatible compostable coffee pods in North America and we’re now working closely with brands and converters to bring these new pods to the market.

VT: Just one more question for you. Can you tell us more about what mass balance accounting in polymers means?
FDM: Sure. As I noted earlier, the single-serve market is trying to come to a consensus around what the most sustainable choices are for this application. To date, this debate has focused on both end-of-life topics (composting, recycling) and material choices (renewable vs fossil or metal-based). Materials made from annually renewable resources and biogenic carbon have been attractive to this market because of their low carbon footprint, compostability after-use, and these materials allow brands to make compelling marketing claims at the consumer level such as “plant-based packaging” or “biobased materials”.

Mass balance accounting is a rather widely used tool in the industry to assign certain attributes of input materials of a production process to a specific product. For example, if a biobased input, no matter the size, is introduced to a fossil-based polymer production process, this biobased attribute can be assigned to any of the fossil-based polymer produced regardless of whether or not the final polymer contains any biogenic carbon. It’s essentially a way of quantifying offsets, but instead of for energy or greenhouse gases, the petrochemical industry is seeking to implement this system for plastics and materials. The result therefore could be a coffee capsule or pod that is marketed as 100% plant-based or 100% biobased, but actually contains no biogenic carbon. The claims are deliberately misleading for consumers and delay the implementation of a true circular economy that has decoupling from petrochemical-feedstocks as a core tenant. In fact, Politico recently published an excellent piece featuring EU Bioplastics further discussing the need for accurate accounting and proof of biogenic carbon.

Going forward, I see it as important to understand the power tools like mass balance accounting hold and make sure we use them to truly support our objectives for combating climate change and reducing plastics waste instead of leveraging them to uphold systems or materials that do not contribute to meaningful change.

Investments in Fully Biodegradable Bioplastics are Increasing

In a recent Associated Press article, NatureWorks Sr. Global Marketing & Communications Manager, Leah Ford, was interviewed on the rapid growth of the bioplastics market, uses for bioplastics, and the opportunity for combatting climate change with better material choices. She says that NatureWorks’ "‘biggest visibility market,’ is compostable food service items such as plastic cutlery, clear cups, wrappers and containers that, along with restaurant food waste, can be converted into a dark organic material to enrich soil in gardens and on farms. That's important because food waste clogs recycling machinery and contaminates recyclable petroleum plastics.”

She cites how efforts in the UK, such as PG Tips tea bags have switched from polyester tea bags to ones made with cellulose and a thin layer of Ingeo - both of which are completely compostable. Read the full article.



AMI Single-Serve Capsules, Europe | September 20 - 21, 2022 | Barcelona, Spain
NatureWorks will exhibit and Flavio Di Marcotullio will present, “Recycling, composting, mass-balance: Hits and misses of the industry and the challenge of a one-size-fits-all approach.”

RISE Conference | September 27 - 28, 2022 | Raleigh, NC
Liz Johnson, NatureWorks VP of Technology, will present "Enhanced PLA Degradability, PLA-based Coatings, Interesting Biopolymer Combinations and Promising Blends" at this event.

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