It's very easy to get confused by all the terms to describe packaging types and there has been a huge influx of new terms and even people with an expertise in the environment, even we were fooled by the term biodegradable in the beginning, so we have decided to explain what the different terms mean and we also want to show you how much better compostable packaging is when compared to recyclable and biodegradable plastics.
This is a process where the materials used are made from natural sources such as corn / sugar cane waste generated by the food industry.
All compostable products are tested to break down in commercial composting facilities ( it takes a bit longer in home composting) in 13 weeks and it has to meet either EN13432 and ASTMD which are pretty much the same standards of testing as all certified products have to comply with these standards.
1. Biodegradation - materials turn to soil through microbial action at the same rate as paper.
2. Disintegration - the materials fall into small pieces.
3. Eco-toxicity - seeds can germinate in the resulting compost and it can be used for plant growing.
4. Safe Disposal - the compost is safe for use on the land.
The Good Bits
Composted packaging is usually made from waste plant materials so it removes a waste product and turns it into a net benefit for the planet.
Composted packaging uses less energy and generates less carbon.
New materials are being brought into the market increasing it's uses and improving it's performance.
The materials used are typically generated in poorer countries which increases the income for poor farmers.
Due to new technology, prices are coming down all the time and is predicted to get cheaper.
Composted packaging helps to improve the soil structure of soil it is disposed of in and research in the US has found that it actually holds more 2.5 times more water than standard soil, which can be used to reduce flooding.
The Bad Bits
Not all councils have the facilities in place to properly dispose of compostable packaging so sometimes it is disposed of in landfills , although they still end up improving the soil structure of the soil they are disposed of in and they don't cause any environmental damage as they are made from plants after all.
There is a cost difference compared to plastic packaging which has now come down to about a 8% difference.
The most commonly recycled items are.