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Participant Information and Consent

Please take the time to read the following information. If you have any further queries, please contact

Invitation to participate

The Big Compost Experiment is a nationwide research project about the role and effectiveness of compostable and biodegradable packaging. It is one of the research initiatives of UCL’s Plastic Waste Innovation Hub, an 18-month interdisciplinary research project (funded by UKRI and EPSRC) aimed at developing new ways of designing out plastic waste. It comprises a short online survey of your opinions on compostable and biodegradable packaging, and how you process food waste. There is also an optional home composting experiment for those who wish to participate further.

Project aims

This study is for everyone, whether you compost or not. By taking part in this study, you will be helping us to determine the viability of biodegradable and compostable plastics. The data we collect from you will feed into our Live Composting Map, a live map of home-composting activities across the UK, and, with your consent, we will keep you up-to-date with the project as it develops. However, you also have the option to remain anonymous; we won’t need to bother you again.

Taking part

Your participation is entirely voluntary and confidential. You will be notified and given the option to consent before submitting any personal information. The first part of the experiment is a short survey: We would like to know what you think of biodegradable plastics, what you do with them, and if you ever compost them yourself. If you do engage in composting, then there is a second part to the experiment. We ask if you would place a few biodegradable plastic items in your compost under controlled conditions, and then report back on whether they compost or not. For further information see our Experiment Guidelines.

Information handling

The lawful basis for processing your personal data will be for the ‘performance of a task in the public interest’. Request for personal information is kept to a minimum and is anonymised, which means that your responses will not be identifiable. Your personal data will be kept strictly confidential and will only be processed by the research team for the purposes of this study. We will minimise the processing of your personal data wherever possible. UCL Data Protection provides an oversight of UCL's activities involving the processing of personal data. If you are concerned about how your personal data is being processed, or wish to withdraw your information from this project, please contact UCL Data Protection in the first instance at For further information see our Privacy Notice.


You have the option to share photographs of your home composter and your chosen biodegradable and compostable item(s). You can also choose to post them anonymously on our Gallery page, in order to help us promote composting across the UK. Any images will only be displayed with your consent. For more information see our Photography Guidelines.

What will happen to the results?

The results of this project will be shared with policymakers and manufacturers, as well as other interest groups concerned with plastic waste. Your responses will be anonymised, so you will not be personally identifiable in any presentations, reports, or publications. We would also like to keep you updated about the progress of the project, which we will do through our Blog on the Big Compost Experiment and UCL's Plastic Waste Innovation Hub websites. A summary of the results will be made available in 2020.

Health and safety

The home composting experiment involves digging or handling food waste and compost. People with allergies should seek advice first before participating. Under 18s should be supervised by a responsible adult.

Further questions?

If you have any other questions, please contact UCL's Plastic Waste Innovation Hub at

Concerns or complaints?

If you have any concerns or complaints about this study, please contact UCL's Plastic Waste Innovation Hub at, or the Chair of UCL's Research Ethics Committee at

Further information

The Big Compost Experiment was conceived by Danielle Purkiss and Professor Mark Miodownik from UCL’s Plastic Waste Innovation Hub. The test and images were created by Danielle Purkiss, food photography by Studio-SP, and the website was designed by Ten4.

This is one of a series of research initiatives currently being undertaken as part of UCL’s Plastic Waste Innovation Hub, jointly funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The Hub brings together a multidisciplinary team of experts from across UCL, who are devising and testing new interventions in eliminating plastic waste.

Thanks for reading this, and for taking part in the Big Compost Experiment!