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?
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!