You may have seen our previous blog post where we differentiated between degradable and biodegradable plastics. click here to read the article
We want to take it one step further and address another duo that people commonly use interchangeably – compostable and biodegradable.
As a reminder, biodegradable products degrade naturally over time and do not require oxygen in the process.
They degrade with the help of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and algae.
Some biodegradable packaging products are corrugated cardboard and some plastics.
Although, compostable products are similar to biodegradable ones. The only noticeable difference is they provide the earth with nutrients once they are broken down.
Compostable products degrade by biological process during composting to yield CO2, water, inorganic compounds and biomass. The process leaves no visible or toxic residue.
An example of compostable packaging is starch-based packing peanuts. Unlike it’s styrofoam counterpart, these peanuts can be dissolved in water and be added to compost.
Key Factors about compostable
Like all terminology, different industries have different definitions.
It’s important to note that in the packaging industry, compostable means that the product can turn into compost, under the correct conditions.
This often means the product will degrade at its intended pace only. For instance, in the right facility and may not naturally do so at all in a landfill.
Typically, composting is a faster process, but only when under the ideal conditions.
In either case, both of these products are better than plastic products. As you know that plastic can take centuries to disintegrate.
As previously mentioned, compostable products are actually very good for the environment as it puts nutrients back into the earth.
This is why it’s important to read labels properly and learn about your city’s disposal by-laws.
If landfills can receive compostable products, where little biodegradation occurs, organic materials are mummified. This will end up having no positive impact on our environment.
How to help our planet with compostable and biodegradable products
A biodegradable material is not necessarily compostable, but a compostable material is always biodegradable.
Keep this in mind that it’s important that we create a proper waste management system for our households.
Each household should have at least 3 different waste outlets. The categories are organic matter (compostable), recycling and general waste.
Some quick and practical tips:
Degradable bags – made from plastic with added chemicals. Kindly throw it in the general waste bin!
Biodegradable bags – made from plastic with microorganisms. That means general waste bin!
Compostable bags– made of more natural materials (typically plant starch) and do not produce any toxic material. Kindly place in your organics bin!
Upcycling organic matter is also a great idea to create a composting heap in your backyard to fertilise your plants!
Growing your own fruits and vegetables is a very sustainable way of living. Not to mention this is becoming more on trend every day!
When you leave your home, remember to separate your garbage. So that it can go to their respective facilities where proper conditions can be met.
No matter how cheesy it may sound, we can all make a difference just by doing our part.
Another useful tip is to apply the 3R’s rule: recycle, reuse and reduce. Lekac Sourcing can offer many packaging products depending on your needs.