With interest growing each and every day about plastic alternatives such as compostable and biodegradable, people are also wondering how they can dispose of these items to further reduce their environmental footprint.
Compostable bags can definitely contribute to your garden once they’ve broken down, however, will break down the quickest and most effective when placed into a worm farm or composter. This means that you can combine your bags with your garden, kitchen and lawn scraps to create good quality fertiliser for your own garden!
What Is Compostable Plastic?
Before we go further into compostable bags and how to dispose of them, let’s take a look at what compostable plastic is and what it’s made from. Compostable plastic is classed as a bioplastic and is made from 100 per cent natural ingredients.
A next-generation plastic, compostable plastic is renewable and will completely break down into natural matter when disposed of correctly. The materials used to create compostable plastic will vary but they are typically made from renewable items such as potato, corn, soy protein, cellulose and tapioca starches.
These natural ingredients also mean that compostable plastics are non-toxic and will decompose in a worm farm or composter (home or industrial). This is great news for the environment, wildlife and landfill contributions (zero!)
It’s worth looking into your compostable plastic options as many companies are now offering compostable plastic alternatives at good prices. These can be found online and in many stores. Consider where you can make some small changes in your everyday life away from traditional plastic.
Can I Put Compostable Bags In My Garden?
You may be wondering if you can skip the compost and go straight to the garden when disposing of your compostable plastic bag. The answer essentially is no. Compostable items need the microbes found in a worm farm or composter environment to break down rapidly and correctly.
Don’t worry though, because by using a worm farm or composter, you will generate some amazing fertiliser for your garden to use in the future! Also, be sure to only put compostable items into your worm farm or compost as biodegradable or traditional plastic won’t break down at all and will contaminate the other ingredients.
Then you can sit back and watch your plants flourish and know that you have lessened your contribution to landfill and given back to the environment.
How Long Does It Take For Compostable Bags To Decompose?
Traditional plastic can stay in landfill for decades and even centuries which contributes to the waste issue and clogs up our landfill. It also leaves behind toxic chemicals which can impact wildlife and the environment i.e. soil and water.
The way that plastic breaks down is that it decomposes thanks to microbes or fungi in the environment. Compostable plastic is best broken down in an industrial composter as that’s what it is designed for rather than landfill. These composters are set up perfectly with the right temperature, moisture levels, air and other important factors for decomposition.
However, you can also use a worm farm or home composter to generate your own fertiliser. Be sure to do your research though as these can only take certain other materials and need certain controls in place to work effectively.
Compostable bags also won’t decompose well in landfill and contribute to the plastics problem. Typically, in the right environment, a compostable bag will take around 90 days to decompose in a compost bin. This is a significant reduction from the decades to centuries traditional plastic takes!
Is Compostable Plastic Sustainable?
Compostable plastic is classed as both sustainable AND eco-friendly due to its makeup of completely natural materials and its ability to break down completely when disposed of in the right environment. The manufacturing process also uses less water, electricity and releases less greenhouse emissions.
Compostable plastics protect the environment to an extent, being made from organic materials that are often in large supply and going back to the environment to decompose. Being able to continue making these with a smaller impact on the environment than traditional plastic is possible.
Overall, compostable plastics are largely sustainable but your choice on when and how to use and where to discard are key to ensuring their longevity as environmentally friendly options. Start considering where you can replace plastic in your household and everyday use.
What Is Composting?
It’s important to have a basic understanding of composting before making a decision to start using compostable plastics. Composting requires certain conditions in order to be effective as the microbes and fungi are what break down the items being composted.
The types of materials in the pile and the size as well as water, air and temperature all are important for composting. Home composting is for smaller batches and industrial composting is for large amounts of compost as it’s much more controlled and can take larger amounts.
The composting process includes:
- Choosing where to dispose of your compostable materials i.e. worm farm/home composter or industrial composting facility
- Layers in the composter are to be alternated (different matter, layered)
- Layers added until the composter is full
- Maintain composter – home composting must be added to and turned, whereas, industrial composters are maintained with controls
- Harvest compost.
When composting compostable plastic, you can do this at home but in smaller quantities. For bulk amounts of compostable bags, they are best sent to an industrial composter as they are set up perfectly with the right temperature, moisture levels, air and other important factors for decomposition.
Without these strict measures, home composting and worm farms do take longer to decompose this plastic. Home composters and worm farms also can’t take anything containing meat, fish or dairy as they will not only smell, but attract insects and vermin.
Using Composted Six-Gallon Compostable Trash Bags In Gardening
ETSUS now offer six-gallon compostable trash bags in their range which means there are now more ways to reduce your environmental footprint while still disposing of your waste! These trash bags are completely compostable which means that YES you can dispose of these in a worm farm or composter.
You can also use them as bin liners for your garden bin and they will contribute to your composter scraps (think coffee grounds, tea bags, vegetable peels!) and then dump them into the composter!
If you use them for something else, never fear, you can empty them and still place the empty bag into your worm farm or home composter. That way, you know that you are disposing of the bag sustainably and contributing to your garden long term.materials and turn into high quality fertiliser for your garden!
Why wouldn’t you make the switch to compostable bags now? Check out our range of compostable and biodegradable trash and pet poop bags here.
My Plants After 90 Days
Here at ETSUS, I love doing a home experiment so I can show customers exactly how well our biodegradable and compostable bags break down in real time! Once before I showed you how much a compostable plastic bag had broken down within 90 days and now I’m keen to show you what happens to my plants after 90 days with compostable plastic in the soil.
Basically, I put my compostable plastic bag in my fertiliser with the rest of the compost and placed it into my garden bed. Then I watched and checked in to see the progress. My plants were thriving by the end of 90 days!
Check it out in the pictures and video below to see the results!
By the end of the 90 days, my compostable plastic bag had broken down into mostly tiny pieces and hadn’t affected the plants growth or the soil quality. With compostable plastic being able to break down completely into natural matter, it just became part of the soil.
Even better, it became part of the amazing fertiliser made from my home worm farm!
What Else Can You Do With Compost Created From Compostable Bags?
There is so much you can do with compost created from compostable bags! You can basically use it for anything you would use compost for! This can include:
- Using in your garden bed
- Potting into plants
- Starting a fruit or vegetable garden
- As bedding for farm animals
- Filling in landscaping projects
- Selling for a small profit to others.
With compost being an excellent fertiliser, consider what new projects you can create around your home to make the best use of this recycled product! You’ll also be ensuring that your waste is given back to the environment.
Why Should You Make The Switch To Compostable Plastic?
There are many reasons you should consider switching to bio-based plastics instead of traditional plastic and they revolve around wildlife, environmental impact and sustainability. The issues that traditional plastic can cause are significant and should be considered when making your plastic choices.
Using traditional plastic not only contributes to landfill but can also negatively impact soil, water and wildlife when it is disposed of. This can be through the ingestion of plastic by wildlife or them getting caught in the item or through the toxic chemicals left in waterways or soil as the plastic breaks down.
The manufacturing process of traditional plastics also is not environmentally friendly, releasing greenhouse emissions and using high levels of energy and water. The use of crude oil in these plastics is also bad for the environment.
There are also many options now to make the switch away from traditional plastic from compostable and biodegradable plastics to reusable items made from bamboo, stainless steel and glass.
Is Biodegradable Another Good Option?
Now that you know more about compostable plastic, let’s quickly chat about biodegradable plastic which is another bioplastic and alternative to traditional plastic. Biodegradable plastic is providing another option for consumers to reduce their environmental impact and lessen their contribution to landfill.
Biodegradable plastic is made to rapidly break down. This is due to the inclusion of specially designed microbes that have the opportunity to break down in months rather than centuries or longer. Biodegradable plastic is also often known as biobased plastic but it still contains some toxic chemicals, unlike compostable plastic.
Biodegradable plastic is often made by extracting the sugar from plants like corn and sugarcane. These are then converted into polylactic acids. Another way to make biodegradable plastic is to engineer it from microorganisms which are made to break down the plastic quicker.
Compostable bags are an excellent option to replace your plastic use and make a sustainable and eco-friendly choice! They can be sent to an industrial composter (for bulk amounts) or broken down in your home composter or worm farm.
They then contribute to your garden and your plants as compost once they break down completely into natural matter. They can also be placed in some soil provided it has the right microbes and fungi to break down rapidly.
You can also combine your compostable plastic bags with your garden, kitchen and lawn scraps or even store these inside a compostable plastic bag! That way you have no additional waste and zero contribution to landfill.
Biodegradable is another alternative to plastic as it will break down quicker than traditional plastic in a landfill environment. It’s important that you don’t confuse the two though as biodegradable plastic can’t break down in a composter and compostable plastic can’t break down in landfill.
It’s important to understand your plastic alternative options, how you will dispose of the plastic and how you compost or use a worm farm. This way, you can be sure that your choice is having the desired effect.
The fact that you’ve found this blog is just one step closer toward reducing your environmental impact and giving back to the environment in a sustainable and eco-friendly way.