Europe, UK, Ireland

The potato solution: How Britain’s Guardian newspaper switched to biodegradable packaging

In January, the Guardian became the first national newspaper to use recyclable packaging.  As part of a pioneering move to reduce plastic waste, the Guardian’s print edition will no longer be sold in plastic packaging

In an article published today, the team behind the project explains how they did it and what responses they received from readers. Richard Furness, managing director of reader revenue and publishing, says: “We are in a constant, inquiring conversation with our readers about what they’d like to see from us, and the genesis of this project really came from conversations with them in which they asked how we might adapt our product to be more environmentally friendly. We introduced polybagging about 20 years ago, but it was still plastic, and still not good enough.”

Mylene Sylvestre, director of publishing says: “It was actually our environment journalists who suggested we try potato starch – a material they had seen being used by the RSPB, the National Trust and others.”

The material itself is called Bioplast 300 and is made using compounded potato starch, mixed with the other ingredients (biodegradable polyesters and additives). Bioplast 300 does not contain volatile or GM ingredients and is 100% biodegradable. The bio granules are extruded and blown into film, in the same way conventional plastics are made.

Mylene: “The response has been overwhelmingly positive. We didn’t have a huge PR drive around the new wrapper as it hasn’t quite yet been rolled out to all our readers, and so many people got in touch to say it had been a lovely surprise when they got to the newsagent. It made me laugh when one reader commented on Twitter that she thought this was “the most Guardian thing ever!”

Richard: “There has been a global reaction, as word has spread about the project online, with people sending us messages – often copying in their local publication and lobbying them to follow suit. Several publishers have been in touch to ask about our suppliers.”

Read the full article on the Guardian