Okay, What's Up with Compostable Plastics?
January 25, 2019
Have you ever wondered what's up with those compostable plastics? Can they actually go in the compost? They're still a single-use item, right? Read on to discover more

Green Spark Group worked with student researcher Samantha Leigh at Quest University Canada to dive into compostable plastics. Leigh developed a research paper that clears up general points of confusion about compostable plastic, certification standards, and composting processes.

In addition, the paper gives an overview of composting-related progress in the Metro Vancouver area, summarizes local facilities and what items they accept, and provides potential directions for future development to reduce single-use items and divert more organic waste from landfill. Key points from the paper include:

  • They look like petroleum plastics, causing consumers to dispose them incorrectly into recycling or landfill-destined streams.

  • There are many Green-Labelled products that are not truly compostable, which cause problems when they end up at a composting facility and add to general confusion.

  • They are not accepted in residential (home) compost streams, but are sometimes accepted in commercial streams, causing confusion at disposal.

To be accepted by composting facilities, compostable plastic products must:

  • Be certified by ISO, ASTM, BPI, or another internationally-recognized third-party testing body for material compostability.

  • Be verified as compostable by the facility and explicitly approved in the contract between the businesses and the composting facility.

  • Not be accompanied by contaminants such as non-food waste or petroleum plastics.

  • Use fibre products such as wood, bagasse, and bamboo because they are accepted by and degrade in industrial composting facilities.

  • Do NOT purchase or supply compostable plastics to your customers. If they cannot be composted, these products must go to landfill because they are not currently recycled.

  • Work with the facility and local government to improve regulations that allow facilities to accept certain types of compostable plastics.

To read the full paper click here

 

 

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