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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!

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5 Things I Thought About Sugarcane Tableware

Sugarcane Tableware… Sell it and Love it

When the sugarcane tableware first arrived I thought there had been a mistake. Maybe the company had sent me the wrong boxes. They were a lot more rigid than I expected. But then I didn’t know what a plate or bowl would look or feel like. Made from non-woody sugarcane fibres that are the by-product from the juice extraction process. These five points form my thoughts around my first experiences with compostable plates and bowls.

  • They are so sturdy. Even after 30 minutes spent covered in salad dressing they were rigid enough to not flex much. You could carry them around one handed easily, even when they are piled high with food.
  • They aren’t very colourful. Yes, I agree they look boring but you can jazz them up with bright coloured accessories.
  • If you are entertaining children they are excellent to draw on with felt tip. My daughter used an 8oz bowl to make a hat.
  • They didn’t blow around as much as paper plates do in the breeze. I put this down to the fact they are slightly heavier.
  • It seems totally bizarre to dump them on your compost heap afterwards but it made for fast clearing up.

I have used them several times while entertaining. I’m a convert. There will be no more paper plates in this house. I’m even considering using them for certain craft, anything that doesn’t involve glitter or glue lol. Not sure my compost heap would like glitter being added.

In fact the sugarcane tableware provides quite a talking point about plastic pollution. This is one small way we can help reduce the plastic footprint we leave behind on the earth. One of my favourite quotes explains why I am making such an effort. Gaylord Nelson has got it spot on.

Tableware Gaylord Nelson Quote

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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.