With the growing interest in alternative plastics such as compostable bags, consumers are interested in understanding exactly how simple it is to dispose of these plastics. One of the questions we hear is whether you can dispose of the bags directly into a garden or soil and still see good results.
You can bury compostable plastic bags in the right environment – i.e. in compost, worm farms or garden beds and be assured they will break down and contribute to the rich soil surrounding them in a much shorter time than traditional plastic. This shortens the decomposing time from decades or centuries to mere months, and results in completely natural matter i.e. water, oxygen, carbon dioxide without leaving behind toxic residue.
Can You Bury Compostable Bags?
Compostable plastic bags are just that – 100 per cent compostable – when certified as such. This means that they are ideally disposed of in a worm farm or composter (home or industrial). However, you can also place them in your home garden with the right environment!
When using a home composter, worm farm or placed in the garden, the plastic breaks down with natural matter. The water and oxygen join together with the other bacteria from the soil and waste to break down the material into useful compost or soil. The bacteria decomposes the materials, generating heat which contributes to this process.
So if you’re disposing of your compostable plastic bag into a garden, then what you’re expecting is that it will break down into carbon dioxide, water and biomass, meaning it completely disintegrates and becomes indistinguishable in the soil. Compostable plastic bags also don’t leave any toxic material behind whatsoever.
As discussed, ideally, compostable bags are placed into either an industrial composter, a home composter or worm farm. However, I wanted to test whether or not our six-gallon compostable trash bags here at ETSUS could go directly into the garden.
Results Of Burying ETSUS Compostable Bags
Here at ETSUS, we love a home experiment to show our customers that our bags are truly compostable! I’ve done two recently – disposed of a compostable plastic trash bag in my home worm farm and our ETSUS compostable trash bags in my garden.
Our ETSUS compostable trash bags are 100 per cent compostable when disposed of correctly, in an industrial composting facility, home composter or worm farm. So I tested them in my very own garden and observed the results!
Of course, this is much less controlled but it really does work! And so I commenced a 90-day challenge to show you – our customers – what compostable trash bags could do for your plants in 90 days! I placed a compostable trash bag into my fertiliser with my compost and placed it directly into my garden bed.
Once again, I sat back and watched nature work its magic. My plants were thriving by the end of 90 days!
You can read more about my home experiment and view the images in this blog.
Can You Bury “Compostable Bags” Available In The Market?
Burying a compostable bag directly into the garden may sound too easy or too good to be true, but it isn’t. In fact, there is a method of composting that actually lays the basis for a vegetable garden or garden bed by placing compostable materials directly into the ground.
Cold + Batch: 3-Bin And Trench
A lesser-known way of composting is done in a trench by saving up the materials prior in three different bins. This is perfect if you are wanting a nutrient-rich garden bed or vegetable garden. The idea is, that you would create three compost areas where you have more brown materials than greens in each. If you fill up in order, your first bin will be ready in one-to-three years.
This is essentially continuous composting, yet saves it up for the trench. To compost using the trench method, you dig a decent sized trench (around three feet) and layer it with the organic matter and soil. Once your trench is full and you’ve waited a couple months, you have a perfect garden bed for your plants or a vegetable garden!
Read more about the different ways of composting here.
Result Of Burying “Compostable Bags” Available In The Market
Additionally, research aka science, tells us that compostable bags can really be buried in soil or directly into the garden and still break down! In fact, a 2019 study by the University of Plymouth actually found that a compostable bag completely disappeared in a marine environment within three months.
It also decomposed directly in soil, however, there was still some presence of the bag after 27 months which meant it did take longer to break down. However, the same study showed biodegradable plastic, oxo-biodegradable and conventional plastic formulations remained functional as carrier bags after being in the soil or the marine environment for over three years.
Compostable materials and composting are a great choice for the environment, providing you understand how to compost, what materials can compost and you stick to the basic rules. You can choose to start your own home composter, begin a worm farm or dispose of waste at an industrial composting facility.
The materials or products that can be composted are reasonably simple yet surprising! You can dispose of compostable plastic items that are marked as such, or food scraps such as coffee grounds, fruit and vegetables or egg shells. You can also dispose of your grass clippings and shredded newspaper!
The important thing is to dispose of these correctly and make sure that your home composter or worm farm are set up and maintained correctly.
How Do Compostable Bags Break Down?
Traditional plastic breaks down due to the microbes or fungi in the surrounding environment. However, it can take decades or centuries to break down in landfill. This is how compostable plastic also works, however, it’s best broken down in an industrial composter which is set up perfectly with the right temperature, moisture levels, air and other important factors for decomposition.
You can also choose to 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.
When using a home composter, the water and oxygen joins together with the other bacteria from the soil and waste to break down the material into useful compost. The bacteria decomposes the materials, generating heat which contributes to this process.
Compostable plastic breaks down into carbon dioxide, water and biomass, meaning it completely disintegrates and becomes indistinguishable in the compost. Compostable plastic bags also don’t leave any toxic material behind.
However, if you don’t dispose of them correctly, compostable plastic trash bags will contribute to the waste issue and create more pollution. They are unable to break down in a landfill environment at all and require composting or a worm farm.
Learn more about the different types of alternative plastics here.
What Are The Benefits Of Compostable Bags?
Compostable plastic is also known as a next-generation plastic or bioplastic as a traditional plastic alternative made from renewable sources and organic materials made to break down to a completely natural state when disposed of correctly.
Where traditional plastic can take decades or centuries to break down and then leave toxic residue, compostable plastic breaks down rapidly in the right environment.
Some benefits of switching to compostable bags include:
- Reduces contributions to landfill.
- Does not leach or leave behind toxic chemicals.
- Less greenhouse gas emissions during manufacturing.
- Lower water and energy consumption during manufacturing.
- Safe for humans, animals, wildlife and the environment.
- Provide great fertilizer when composted correctly.
Read more about composting in this article.
So you want to switch to compostable plastic bags and want to understand how to dispose of them easily? Never fear, you can dispose of them via industrial composting facility, or at home in your very own composter, worm farm or even directly into your garden bed!
You can bury compostable plastic bags in the right environment and watch as they break down and contribute to the rich soil surrounding them. This also shortens the breakdown time from decades or centuries to mere months! And leaves you with completely natural matter i.e. water, oxygen, carbon dioxide with no leftover toxic residue.
With compostable plastic being 100 per cent able to decompose naturally in the right environment, you can watch as the water and oxygen join together with the other bacteria from the soil and waste to break down the material into useful compost or soil. The bacteria decomposes the materials, generating heat which contributes to this process.
Voila! You have nutrient-rich soil for your garden! All from your scraps and compostable plastics. You can also use the trench method which lays the foundation for a great garden bed or vegetable garden!
Switching to compostable plastics is easier than ever. Check out ETSUS’ range of compostable plastic alternatives right here on this website!