More make the switch to potato starch

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More and more companies and organisations are turning to potatoes to replace polythene packaging, with the Guardian newspaper becoming one of the latest to make the switch.

The weekend paper supplements are now wrapped in a compostable material made from potato starch. The paper says it ditched its polythene covers after feedback from readers.


The potato starch packaging has been introduced in London, Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk and there are plans to phase in the new wrapping across the whole of the UK over the coming months.


Potato starch packaging generally comes from waste potatoes and is 100% compostable, containing no oil-based materials, plastics or harmful toxins. It has a silky feel and is not entirely transparent like plastic. It is suitable for domestic composting. Advice on the wrapping says it should not be recycled but disposed of on a compost heap or in a food waste bin.


Potato Review introduced the new packaging in 2018. Its reception has been mixed. While most readers have welcomed the more environmentally-friendly packaging, it has been pointed out by some that it takes longer to bio-degrade than manufacturers' claims.


Manufacturers have responded by pointing out that there are varying grades/thicknesses of potato starch packaging and although it will eventually completely compost within a compost heap or food waste bin, the time it takes to do this will vary, according to conditions of soil, thickness of packaging etc. 


Another downside is that its production costs are higher, but with the consumer focus being on more 'green' alternatives, its popularity is still increasing, and it is felt more companies and organisations will make the switch in 2019.


Other publications that have moved to potato starch wrapping include the New Internationalist and the National Trust members' magazine. Other national publications are also believed to have been trialling the packaging.


Other national newspapers say they have been experimenting with more environmentally-friendly ways to distribute their magazines, supplements and advertising leaflets.