With people globally trying to reduce their environmental footprint by making more informed choices, composting and compostable plastics have come to the surface as a great alternative to traditional plastic and its harmful disposal.
Compostable materials are anything marked as ‘compostable’ and made from renewal materials such as corn, soy protein, potato and tapioca whose starch is extracted to create the bioplastic. Compostable plastics are able to be broken down by a home composter, worm farm or industrial composting facility and returned to a natural state to be used as fertilizer.
What Materials Can Be Composted?
Materials or items that can be composted are those made from renewable plastic with no traditional plastic components and can be broken down into a natural state in the right environment. Compostable plastic contains organic materials such as tapioca starch, potato or corn starch, soy protein, cellulose (a component of paper) and lactic acid. This makes the bag perfect for breaking down or decomposing in a natural environment such as a composter (home or industrial) or worm farm.
Organic materials such as grass clippings, leaves, wood chips, shredded paper, manure (not human), fruit and vegetable scraps can also be composted. The act of composting is essentially a process that sees materials such as compostable plastic or organic material such as food scraps, placed into a composter. This matter is then broken down through the presence of insects, worms, bacteria and fungi.
What Plastics Can Be Composted?
Being made from organic or renewable materials, compostable plastic is made to break down to their natural components. They are also able to break down rapidly – in 10-90 days in most cases – in a home composter, worm farm or industrial composting facility.
However, if disposed of in landfill, compostable plastic will NOT break down. Ideally, compostable plastic is broken down in an industrial composter as that’s what it is designed for. These composters are set up perfectly with the right temperature, moisture levels, air and other important factors for decomposition.
Home composters or worm farms are also able to dispose of compostable materials, but it’s important to understand what can go into these composters or worm farms and how to maintain them correctly. Typically, in the right environment, a compostable bag will average 90 days to decompose in a compost bin. Check out the home experiment we undertook with an Etsus biodegradable trash bag!
You May Be Surprised How Much You Can Dispose Of At Home!
Other than the typical compostable plastics, you can also dispose of eggshells, coffee grounds, tea bags, newspaper (shredded), leaves or even grass clippings! This means less waste across the board at home. A home composter essentially results in a nutrient-rich soil that occurs over a period of months, dependent on the composting system and method used.
However, food such as meat, fish or dairy isn’t suitable for a home composter as animals can be attracted (such as mice or rats) to the composter. This means that when you mow the lawn, drink your morning coffee or tea, read your newspaper or clear your garden, many of these items can also be disposed of in your worm farm or home composter.
Are Composting And Compostable Plastics Better For The Environment?
For those looking for an alternative to traditional plastic and to reduce their environmental footprint, compostable plastics present a great option. Due to its ability to not only break down into natural components and leave behind zero toxicity, compostable plastics are a great alternative.
If you have a worm farm or home composter, these materials become even more attractive as they result in good quality fertilizer for your garden and can be disposed of right in your backyard! Compostable plastics are environmentally friendly as they are sustainable, renewable, and compostable.
Their manufacturing process uses less energy, produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and contributes to job growth in rural areas, whereas the same cannot be said for traditional plastic. Many people use home composters to minimize their environmental impact and reduce waste, as well as fertilize their own gardens.
You can dispose of food waste such as fruits, coffee grounds and vegetables along with compostable plastics at home. Learn more about what goes into a home composter or worm farm here.
A home composter usually contains insects and worms to assist in the process as well as shredded newspaper, grass clippings, leaves or even eggshell which are additional materials you can compost. Home composters are becoming more accessible and available to the everyday consumer.
In essence, compostable plastic is better for the environment. It’s also non-toxic and versatile, meaning it can be used in applications from food packaging, trash bags, cutlery, coffee cups and medical packaging, to carry bags and food service items. It’s also certified to break down in an industrial composting facility in under six months.
The best part for your family is that it’s also safe for them, your pets and home composting or worm farms, producing excellent fertilizer for your garden or large landscaping projects in the case of industrial composting facilities.
What Are Compostable Products?
Compostable products are becoming more popular around the globe, with many options now available to utilize these plastic alternatives and reduce contribution to landfill. Compostable plastic is made from organic components that can break down in a home composter, worm farm or industrial composting facility directly back into the soil. This means that no toxic chemicals are either emitted or left behind during this process.
The materials vary, but include renewable materials such as corn, soy protein, potato, tapioca starches, lactic acid and cellulose. These materials mean that compostable plastics are non-toxic and can decompose when composted.
Compostable plastics are made to return to the environment when they break down and also to provide nutrients to that environment. These are made from organic materials and able to be decomposed quickly with a home or industrial composter.
Compostable plastic can’t be disposed of in landfill or it may take as long as traditional plastic to completely break down. Learn more about compostable plastics here.
What Are Examples of Popular Compostable Products?
Popular compostable products may surprise you! In addition to compostable plastic, you can also compost household waste such as coffee grounds, tea bags or leaves, grass clippings, newspaper and grass clippings.
Consider switching to these items instead of your coffee pods or purchasing a coffee or tea each day. When purchasing plastic products, keep an eye out for compostable plastic products that present an alternative to traditional plastics – think food service items, packaging and bags.
There are now several products on the market that provide alternatives in your everyday life to traditional plastics. Unfortunately, as the cost of compostable plastics are still higher due to demand for materials and the manufacturing costs, there aren’t enough to replace ALL of your traditional plastic.
What Compostable Plastics Can You Buy Right Now?
There are several items you can buy right now from your supermarket, specialty store or online shopping. These include:
– Food packaging such as containers, bags and takeaway cups.
– Food service items such as cups, cutlery, plates and napkins.
– Medical device packaging.
– Garbage bags.
– Carry or grocery bags.
– Sticky tape or packing tape.
– Toiletry packaging.
Compostable plastics – PLA and CPLA – can be utilized in medical environments for uses such as medical implants, drug delivery systems and orthopedic devices as they are non-toxic. Read more about PLA and CPLA plastic here.
Why Should We Choose To Use Compostable Products?
Compostable plastic is seen as the top choice over conventional plastic, having several benefits for consumers and the environment. However, it’s important to understand how you will dispose of these products. If you’re willing to dispose of it correctly – in a home composter, worm farm or via an industrial composting facility – then it’s worth your time to protect the environment.
Some simple benefits of using compostable plastic include:
– Compostable plastic can break down in as little as 90 days or less, and at the most, six months.
– Compostable plastic completely breaks down into its natural environment when disposed of correctly – back to natural components.
– The breakdown of these plastics can provide compost and fertilizer for your garden or industrial landscaping.
– Compostable plastic is made from natural materials, meaning that gas house emissions and use of electricity, water and the like are greatly reduced during manufacturing.
– Can be disposed of in a home composter, a worm farm or an industrial composting facility.
– Providing jobs in rural areas.
Compostable materials and composting are a great choice for the environment, providing you understand how to compost, what materials can be composted and your stick to the basic rules. You can choose to start your own home composter, begin a worm farm or dispose of waste to 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 eggshells. 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.