Composting is a great environmentally conscious way to reduce your contribution to landfill. It can be done at home, or for products that require special treatment can be taken to commercial composting facilities. Composting food scraps and biodegradable products has the benefit of enriching soil which reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, helps soil retain its moisture content, and can help promote the growth of beneficial bacteria and fungi. It’s a great way to keep your garden healthy, and just one of the many reasons to switch to biodegradable single use packaging.
What are Compostable Products?
Composting refers to the process of producing compost through aerobic decomposition of biodegradable organic matter. The decomposition is performed primarily by aerobes, although larger creatures such as ants, nematodes, and oligochaete worms. Compostable products are made from natural, plant based materials such as wood, paper, or biodegradable plastics. There are different types of compostable products which require different composting processes. Some are suitable for home compost systems and worm farms while others require a specific set of conditions only available at commercial composting facilities.
Why use Compostable Products?
The number one benefit of using compostable food packaging is that it has a minimised effect on the environment—if it is disposed of correctly—as it does not contribute to landfill. Compostable food packaging can be disposed together with food waste and does not require sorting. When processed, these products are turned into compost which can then be used to create soil, fertiliser or even renewable energy. This supports a circular economic system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources. In short, compostable packaging is more sustainable, and better for the environment.
Home or Commercial Composting?
There are two types of composting; home composting and commercial composting. Both techniques use the same biological processes, however certain factors must be considered. Home composting can take place in the backyard generally in a composting drum. Here you can dispose of food waste, as well as products made from natural materials (refer to list below). Home composting is great for everyday purposes. Commercial composting facilities on the other hand can create very specific climatic conditions which cannot be replicated in the home composting process. Certain kinds of materials, such as PLA (poly-lactic-acid)—though also made from plant based materials—require these special conditions in order to completely break down.
Commercial composting is a fast growing industry, and though not all council areas in Australia offer this kind of waste management, with more demand we see this to be commonplace in the future. We recommend contacting your local council for more commercial composting information.
Products Suitable for Home Composting:
(These products can also be processed at a commercial composting facility).
- Wooden serving ware: pine boats, cones and cups
- Sugarcane bagasse or bamboo pulp fibres: plates, trays, cups and clamshells
- Wooden cutlery: forks, sporks, knives, spoons, teaspoons
- Cardboard and paper goods: trays, sleeves, cup trays, pizza boxes, paper bags, napkins, greaseproof paper
Products Only Suitable for Commercial Composting:
(These products will not decompose correctly if composted at home).
- Paper cups with a PLA lining
- Food containers or cups with a PLA lining
- PLA clear cups and deli containers
- PLA cutlery (PLA bioplastics are produced from PLA (poly-lactic-acid) harvested from corn starch, which is a natural, annually renewable resource. The production of PLA produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional plastic production. PLA can be composted in commercial compost facilities. Click here for more information about PLA and here for further information about BioPlastics).
Composting is a great environmentally conscious way to reduce your contribution to landfill. It can be done at home, or for products that require special treatment can be taken to commercial composting facilities.
Compostable Materials Include:
Sugarcane bagasse is the dry fibrous residue left after sugarcane stalks have been crushed and the juice has been extracted mainly for sugarcane manufacturing. The process of using the already crushed fibres to make bagasse products uses less energy overall when compared to pulping wood for paper products.
Bamboo is fast growing and regenerates quickly; it rarely needs replanting and does not require irrigation. Bamboo can be harvested in 3-5 years. Sugarcane bagasse and bamboo products are made to decompose in a commercial composting facility within 60-90 days. Suitable for home composting as well. Composting may take longer in a home composting environment. Complies with ASTM D6868 and EN13432 reports for compostability.
FSC Certified Wood& Paper:
Sourced from sustainably managed, quick growing Birch forests, the raw material is a renewable natural resource used for wooden cutlery, and paper cups manufactured from wood fibre. Paper cups are lined with PLA lining and are compostable in commercial composting facilities only. Wooden cutlery is both home and commercially compostable.
Cardboard is made from a renewable resource, easily recyclable and compostable, with less production emissions. The original raw material used is wood fibre to produce cardboard, that then gets collected and recycled from secondary raw material. Cardboard can be composted both at home and commercially.
Areca Palm Leaves:
Areca trees have naturally large leaves or fronds that fall to the ground and are collected. Traditionally these leaves are collected and burned. Tableware sourced from this material turns the leaves into disposable plates, bowls and platters, which are naturally compostable and biodegradable. Areca is a strong, semi flexible yet not brittle, odourless, water and heat resistant leaf, making it an ideal material for disposable products. The leaves are collected and sorted, washed and heat pressed into a variety of shapes. Each product is unique with a natural grain. No pulp or starch is added. Areca palm leaf products are both home and commercially compostable.
PLA Bio-based Plastic:
Ingeo PLA (Polylactic Acid) biobased plastic is produced from corn. The production of PLA produces fewer carbon emissions when compared to conventional plastic. PLA bioplastic products are compostable in commercial composting facilities only, although in Australia there are few facilities available currently. Clear PLA bioplastic products such as cups and containers are heat sensitive and must be stored out of direct sun, away from any heat source, being stored under 35 degrees Celsius.