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Let's face it , it's all a bit confusing as how do you navigate your way through all this green washing , well the answer is knowing the facts, so below is the answer to the most common questions we get asked.
Let's talk eco terms
Navigating all the environmental terms can be confusing ( we consider ourselves experts and it still gives us a headache) so here are the most common terms (if we missed something, do let us know).
This is the most commonly used term and sadly it's the most confusing as it all depends on where you live , if you live in Australia and France ( they use the Australian benchmark) there is a legal definition of what this means which includes a realistic time to break down and the contamination levels after it degrades but for the rest of the world, it's pretty meaningless.
The rest of the world works on a definition that as long as it breaks down in 10,000 years it's biodegradable but the problem with this definition is, it doesn't include a reasonable time line (10,000 years is a pretty long time) and it doesn't include environmental damage , in fact we can only think of three things that don't meet this definition which is plutonium rods, glass and silicone ( if you can think of any others, please let us know).
So pretty much everything is biodegradable , we know your next question is " why does The Pure Option™ use the term to describe it's products ?"
The answer is of our products are compostable which means that they are also all 100% biodegradable, we avoided using the term for as long as we could but the reality is our potential customers believed that biodegradable meant something, so not using the term meant people couldn't find us , so we reluctantly had to start using the term.
This is a term with standards for biodegradation, standards of toxicity and a respected and regulated set of standards, which are
1. Material turns to soil through microbial action at the same rate as cellulose.
2. Dis-intergrates of the materials into smaller pieces.
3. Safe eco-toxicity so that seeds can germinate in the resulting compost.
4. No heavy metals so that the compost can be added to the land to create safe plant growth , sometimes referred to as circular.
There are two standards that the world works from which is the European standard of EN13432 or the US ASTMD 6400 , they are basically the same standard but one is designed for the European market and the other is designed for the North American market.
All of our products are EN13432 and most of them are also certified by the US certification ASTMD 6400.
So to sum up all of our products are compostable and all of them are biodegradable.
Let's Talk Compostable Section
"Are all of your products compostable, including the plasticky looking ones?"
It never made sense to us that anyone should produce a temporary product like food packaging which is designed for a single use out of materials that are designed to last hundreds of years ( in some cases much longer) so the simplest solution is to make them from plants so when they are disposed of ( if disposed of correctly) can be used to grow more plants, it's circular and means their usage actually benefits the environment, so 100% of our products are made from plants.
"What's the best way of disposing of them?"
This is really up to you and depends how the end user disposes of them but all of them have a carbon saving and are good for the planet, so there is no downside but it is worth noting that some disposal methods have a much better environmental outcome than others.
Commercial Food Waste Collection - This is by the far the best option as it saves an average of 58.69kg of carbon ( which would take a tree 876 days to absorb), it removes the need for nasty chemical fertilisers and is completely circular and breaks down in under 13 weeks into smashing nutrient rich compost, we have only worked out the carbon saved up to disposal but it's all get so complex with some many variables working out carbon saved after disposal, that the above figure is up to disposal so the carbon saving is much more.
Home Composter - A great choice for when the packaging arrives at the home and we have tested our packaging in home composting and we have had decomposition within 8 months but it really does come down to how healthy your composter is as healthy composters have a much better soil food web so times do vary from 6 months to 2 years.
General Waste - Don't worry , this isn't the best option but it's also ok as plant based packaging that ends up in the general waste have still saved a lot of carbon and cause no harm so if your in an area that is sending things to landfill ( it's hard to believe this still goes on but sadly it does) or it will end up in one of the new Energy For Waste facilities (EFW) and is incinerated to create green energy and they don't leech or emit any harmful toxic emissions.
"Is composting better than recycling?"
The simple answer is yes but like most things it's a little bit more complex.
There is rare examples that are better recycled , it's why we don't make a replacement for the aluminium can, it's the best material for the job and can be easily recycled but this is one of the few examples because in most cases composting is always the best environmental option.
"What are the benefits of composting?"
There are a lot of examples , typically are products save an average of 56.89kg (and a lot more if added to food waste collections ) when compared to petrol based plastics (that would take a tree 986 days to absorb that much carbon) but there are a lot more.
If the product is composted it can be used to fertiliser land to grow more plants and just as importantly it's taking a chemical based product ( that has huge environmental issues in their own respect) and replacing it with a plant waste product.
There is also examples of compost being used to reduce flooding as compost holds 2.5 times more water than standard soil.
The other overlooked benefit is it fits in with modern living , it removes barrier solutions ( things that add complications) like re-usable straws , cups and containers and the end result is , it's good for the planet ( something that can't be said for a number of these re-usable barrier solutions).
The only downside is the worlds waste industries just haven't caught up and not all of them correctly process compostable packaging but, which is why we recommend using a company like First Mile who have an exceptional track record in processing compostable packaging to achieve their best environmental benefit.
"So do I need to have food waste collection to use your products?"
No you can add them to your general waste and one of two things will happen to them.
They will be sent to an energy from waste facility and incinerated to create electricity and because they are made of plant they won't release toxic emissions but will create clean and greener electricity.
They will be sent to landfill (thankfully this is becoming less and less common) and as they are made of plants, they won't damage the environment but they will take a bit longer to break down in a layered landfill environment ( no research has been done on how long but our estimates are two years).
We use a few different materials but the vast majority of our products contain one or more of the following and all of them are plant based (You can find our more here).
Polylatic Acid (PLA) - Made from waste generated from the corn industry.
Bagasse - Made from the waste generated from the sugar industry.
Sustainable Paper - This paper comes from a certified (typically FSC™) responsibly managed forest and for every tree felled , another is planted.
Recycled Paper - This is paper that comes from recycled stock.
Waste Not - This is our latest material and it comes from plant waste of mixed type and is a recycled waste product and it's pretty amazing.
The Marine Section
"What happens if they end up in the sea?"
The simple fact is there really is no reason why they should end up in the sea but if this happened (not sure why they would but it's worth thinking about) they will take much longer to break down, we don't know how long and more research needs to be done to get a definitive answer but our belief ( let's remember this is a personal opinion as no research exists) is that as they are made from plant that marine life will ingest them without any harm.
The simple fact is without research we just can't be certain what the effects is , so the simple solution is just don't throw them away in the sea.
"So marine plastics is this something we are responsible for ?"
The fact is we are all responsible as the picture below shows the main culprits of marine dumping being in the Far East, but the western world is responsible for shipping our waste half way around the world for others to deal with and because we were all had a throw and forget mentality no one ever checked what these countries were doing with it, so sadly we are all responsible but some more than others.