Posted on Leave a comment

Home Composting and What is Compostable?

There is a lot of talk about compostable packaging and food supplies. Manufacturers often talk about how their packaging composts within 12 weeks. Or how the coffee cup you are using is compostable. What they don’t tell you is their claims are based on commercial composting on an industrial scale. If you think of composting do you picture a big industrial facility or a heap in your back garden? So what is home composting and what is compostable?

Home Composting Guide

Home Composting

It is simple to do. It can be cheap – it depends on if you build your own compost heap using old wood pallets or if you buy a super expensive compost bin. Where I live in Cardiff the council actually sell you compost bins for £7. It’s basically a big bin with a hatch door at the bottom to make it easier to get your finished compost out.

Home composting and industrial composting work on different timescales. You are never going to get good quality home compost in 12 weeks. The temperature of the heap is unlikely to get high enough for rapid breakdown; especially in the winter months. Does that make it any less compostable? Well no. Cardboard is compostable – but everyone says biodegradable. Sugarcane tableware is compostable but I have to use biodegradable because it doesn’t happen within an industrial composting timeframe. There is a nice study on domestic composting rates of cardboard, sugarcane plates, plant based compost liner and compostable bioplastic fork. The cardboard and sugarcane plate had degraded in 80% of the test compost heap within 6 months and in 95% within 12 months.

That’s why I’m passionate about bagasse tableware. Six months after you use it you can feed your flowerbeds, plant vegetables and have a good source of home made compost. Can you do that with a plastic plate? Even paper plates often have a thin plastic coating so they are usable, making them unsuitable for composting.

BioPlastics Aren’t Always Home Compostable

The diagram below is a good guide for compostable markings. So your compostable disposable coffee cup may appear to be a good way of avoiding waste but in reality you will end up throwing it in your black bag waste anyway. Just look at the temperature needed for industrial composting and a highly controlled environment – can you picture that in your back garden?

Is it a science? I reckon most definitely; to get a good idea of how to balance a good compost heap read here. Most DIY stores sell compost heap starter if you are at the beginning of your journey. I have a rabbit and his waste has proved to be a very good compost heap starting material! Although my compost heap is now a bit too much rabbit waste and not enough greenery after the winter. I need to mow the lawn!

My Sugarcane Compostable Party Supplies

I have been asked many times why I don’t sell cups. It is for the simple reason I haven’t found on that is home compostable yet. They all have bioplastic in them and need industrial composting. When I started Eco Infinity I felt very passionate that all party supplies sold should be home compostable. That party supplies should not have to enter mainstream waste collection.

I am sticking to that. Even though I could have a much bigger business with many more sales by now it will be abandoning my whole ethos for Eco Infinity. I hope you found this blog post useful. If you did a share on social media is always appreciated.

Happy composting everyone!

Posted on Leave a comment

My Home Composting Journey

Composting

I remember as a child my parents had a compost heap at the bottom of the garden. My Mum would wander down there with the vegetable peelings most days. I don’t remember them using the compost lol but I’m sure they did. Over the last few months I have once again become aware of composting. It is becoming part of my journey into reducing the waste our family uses heading to landfill.

The Compost Bin

I bought a compost bin from Cardiff Council. You can get them at the Lamby Way recycling depot or tip, if we’re not being so posh. It only cost a few pounds and it can hold 240 litres; it’s big! So cost isn’t an obstruction to starting to compost at home.

Composting Infographic

I am starting cautious in the hope that it might be successful so I’m limiting what I put into my compost heap until it’s bigger. So, sawdust from the rabbit hutch (urine is apparently a great addition to a compost heap), grass cuttings, non-seeded weeds, leaves (we have lots). From the house; fruit/vegetable peelings, tea bags, crushed egg shells, paper towels, plain cardboard like toilet rolls, scrunched up paper, sugarcane disposable party supplies.

How I’m Doing It

  • Small is key I reckon. I’m ripping paper or shredding it. Ripping up cardboard and the sugarcane party supplies.
  • Old cotton fabric offcuts are cut even smaller.
  • I’m mixing the wetter peelings with cardboard and paper.
  • Moisture. In the middle of a heatwave I’m adding water every week. Not much – maybe it’s not enough I have no idea!
  • Regular turning. Not looking forward to this one!

Why will it take so long to turn into compost though? Patience is not my strong point. Once there’s something to see I might show some photos. A few peelings aren’t very exciting to look at.

Posted on Leave a comment

Why Sugarcane Plates?

Why Sugarcane Tableware?

Sugarcane fibres are a natural by-product of extracting the juice from the sugarcane. The waste fibres are usually incinerated but there is an increasing trend to using the fibres to form disposable party supplies. Why do I love sugarcane plates so much?

You can home compost! A domestic compost heap doesn’t reach the high temperatures of a commercial system. This means that some substances labelled as compostable won’t compost properly in a domestic compost heap. A good example is biodegradable plastic or PLA. Although clear PLA glasses are biodegradable they will not degrade successfully in your home compost heap.

Sugarcane (or Bagasse) has similar compostable properties to paper and cardboard. If conditions are right in your heap (not too wet and warm enough) it will completely degrade in months. No more hours spent at the sink washing up or endless loads in the dishwasher. You put it all on the compost heap and use it years later to feed your garden.

Dont forget it isn’t just sugarcane plates but bowls and other tableware supplies too.

At Eco Infinity we are trying to encourage home composting. It reduces the waste collected by your council, enriches your garden and is the most environmentally friendly way of disposing of your waste.