Compostable Packaging Project Trial

Action areas: Circular Economy

In 2019, Council introduced a trial, supported by funding available from the Recycling Community Investment Fund, to encourage local businesses to reduce single-use plastic items and instead offer customers compostable items and then educate them about how they should be properly disposed of.  

50 businesses were targeted.  The businesses were required to put a poster in their window / on their counter throughout trial, complete a pre and post survey regarding their thoughts and experience as well as their customers’ feedback. The range of compostable items were paper straws, small food box, large food box, greaseproof paper, wooden knives, forks, spoon. Businesses were able to choose items most appropriate for their product range.  

For the period of the trial single-use items previously used in the 51 businesses participating were reduced to zero.  90% of participants said their business had benefitted from the trial, based primarily on customer feedback.  Food boxes proved to be the most useful item.  All businesses bar one said they would use compostable items in the future.


  • Significant reduction in single-use items used in 51 business across Ards and North Down for the duration of the trial and potentially beyond
  • Raised awareness of the issue of single-use plastics among businesses and customers
  • Raised awareness of alternatives to single-use plastic items among businesses
  • Strong uptake and positive response from nearly half the businesses
  • Excellent media coverage including TV 

Barriers: While the vast majority of businesses participating indicated that they would continue to use compostable packaging, they did consider the costs associated to be high.  Suppliers need to reduce costs - which will happen as demand for this type of packaging increases.