AN ORGANIC veg box business has pledged to introduce home compostable packaging by the end of 2020.

Riverford Organic Farms, which has a farm at Newby Wiske, near Northallerton, has spent months researching more sustainable packaging options out of frustration with national recycling policies.

A survey of more than 10,000 of its customers found 82.5 per cent compost at home, either on a compost heap or in a food waste bin.

As a result it has committed to replace single-use plastic with home compostable packaging in their organic veg boxes by the end of 2020.

Riverford's delivery model means that customers who can't compost at home will be able to return packaging with their reusable veg box to Riverford who will then compost it on farm and use the compost to grow their next crops.

Home Farm at Newby Wiske is one of four Riverford farms countrywide which produce and deliver veg boxes to more than 50,000 homes a week.

A recent study against seven major supermarkets found that Riverford's three most popular veg boxes contained 77 per cent less plastic packaging than comparable supermarket organic veg. They claim this would be closer to 90 per cent in winter when produce is less perishable.

While they use minimal plastic it is necessary for salad, spinach and herbs which would dehydrate in paper, causing food waste.

Guy Singh-Watson, Riverford founder, felt there was no option but to take action given current recycling policies in place by government.

He said it was impossible for people or companies to introduce good packaging practices while council's have different approaches to kerbside collections.

He said: "We desperately need an intelligent, long-term, national policy on what materials will be recycled, composted and incinerated or landfilled.

"In the current vacuum, effort is being wasted on ill-informed company policies and headline-grabbing claims that will deliver little of value. To abandon policy to individual choices and market forces is an abdication of responsibility and a failure of government."

The new packaging will be made from renewable, sustainable materials and will break down within 12 weeks in home compostables and in marine environments should it accidentally end up in the ocean.

"Although not a perfect solution, it is a huge improvement; we are doing our best in the world as we find it," said Mr Singh-Watson.