What Exactly is Compostable?

What Exactly is Compostable?

The plastic industry is moving forward, and new environmentally friendly alternatives are readily available. Among the other options, compostable plastics are a popular choice. Remarkable as one of the world’s greenest plastic alternatives, composting plastic bags could hold the key to helping us reduce the amount of harmful plastic that ends up in landfills. To find out why composting plastics are the future, we are going to explore what the composting process involves and how it can help change our plastic habits.

What Does Compostable Mean?

Composting is an environmentally friendly process where organic waste is broken down by microorganisms. While this happens to the organic matter under normal conditions, a compost pile can speed up the process significantly. Thriving in the warmth and moisture of a compost pile, microorganisms that break down organic matter feed on the carbon that makes up the waste and table scraps you add to the mix. Importantly, composting is an aerobic respiration process, meaning the microorganisms consume oxygen and produce small amounts of carbon dioxide. Without that oxygen to feed on, compost piles become like landfills and produce large amounts of methane which is much more harmful to the environment.

Is Plastic Compostable?

The short answer is no, conventional plastics are not compostable. In fact, most plastics are so hardy that some are predicted to last up to 450 years in landfills.

But as the world’s focus shifts towards environmentally friendly practices, the plastic industry has also developed sustainable solutions. Plastics are made up of molecules called polymers, and modern production can turn naturally-occurring polymers into plastics that break down like other organic waste. There are two main types of compostable plastics that have found their way into things like grocery and rubbish bags: 

  • Home Compostable. Australian Standard AS5810 refers to plastics that can be composted in your home compost pile. Much like the vegetable and other organic scraps that go into the compost, compostable plastics will break down in the hot, aerobic environment. It is important to separate your rubbish properly to ensure everything inside the plastic bag can also be composted safely.
  • Industrial Compostable. Marked with the Australian Standard AS4736, some plastics are only compostable under industrial conditions. Industrial composting plants generate more heat and deal with large volumes of waste to speed up the composting process dramatically. 

  • Fortunately, our Konsiderate Compostable Bin Liners and Dog Poop Bags are Australian Certified both Home and Industrial Compostable and verified by the Australasian Bioplastics Association (ABA). This makes our compostable garbage bags and dog waste bags suitable for both composting environments.

    Are Compostable Plastics Good for the Environment?

    Compostable plastics have the potential to help the world solve two problems at once. Reducing the amount of plastic we use will go a long way towards helping the environment. Because they break down quickly, they don’t turn into harmful by-products of microplastic pollutants. Secondly, industrial composting facilities are a great source of power. Some countries are using the heat generated by industrial composting processes to provide additional electricity to their grid. But to see any benefit from compostable plastics, they need to be disposed of properly. Compostable plastics that end up in landfills are just as environmentally harmful as any other waste.

    Compostable vs Degradable

    Plastics that break down naturally are often split into compostable and degradable categories. As above, compostable plastics break down due to a natural process and their chemical makeup, eventually becoming heat, water and biomass under compost conditions.

    Traditional Plastic and Degradable plastics are slightly different. While they both do break down, traditional plastic being the worst, and we will still be digging large pieces from the ground in 450 years. Degradable plastics contain an additive that causes them to break down within a few months to a few years into tiny molecules, which may then be biodegraded by micro-organisms. They are a better choice than traditional plastic however they still have a lifespan and can pollute the environment they are in. 

    Ready to Reduce Your Plastic Waste? Take a Look at Konsiderate’s Product Range!

    Managing plastic waste is everyone’s responsibility. The team at Konsiderate are on a mission to help out by supplying a range of compostable plastic products that are perfect for a wide range of uses. Certified to AS4736 and AS5810, our plastic bags have quick composting timeframes that comply with Australian Standards, Certified both Home and Industrial Compostable. We can even supply customised products showing your logo or message so that your customers can benefit from compostable plastics as well. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch and make an enquiry!

    Older Post Newer Post