Compostable Packaging...

bioplastics and dirt!


Important background.

Even more confusing...
Not all biodegradable products are necessarily compostable.

They might be "bioplastics" which are plastics that have a chemical additive to speed up the breakdown process.

Unfortunately these leave behind micro-plastics and don't fully breakdown into the good earth rich compost we need.



Plastic History


Ability to mass produce developed in the early 1900's




Widely incorporated into society in the 1960's

Used across industries as a cheap alternative to natural resources

Takes 1000+ years to degrade into micro-plastics
badMade via a process of polymerizing petroleum reserves aka fossil fuels 
badInsufficient ways to manage waste pollutes our water



    Compostable Packaging 






    Paper products including cardboard







    What is it made out of?

    Plants or other organics (something grown from the ground) 

    pla cycle
    PLA = poly lactic acid
    Made out of plants and renewable resources and sometimes cited as thermoplastic starch
    Example materials:
    corn, sugar cane, upcoming projects - beer (Europe)

    How do I tell if it is compostable?

    Labeled as compostable
    Plastics are labeled with the number 7 AND contain "PLA" on the logo
    PLA label
    If you see "O" or "Other" associated with the 7, the item is not compostable


    How do they break down?

    Temperature Needed: 120-140 degrees fahrenheit
    **will warp using Home Composting but fully disintegrate in Commercial heaps**

    Important Operational Notes

    PLA should be treated as a Brown Material

    Compostable products should not consume more than 30% of pile

    It takes approximately 180 days to full break down
    **could be as short as 60 days depending on conditions**

    Compostables in a landfill are the same as a non-compostable in a landfill
    The lack of Oxygen will not get the microorganisms needed for breaking down efficiently. 

     On the PLUS side

    Innovative creative space

    Companies are forming specifically to come up with innovative materials to make the packaging 

    coming soon


    PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate) = plastic derived from bacteria 

    Belgium based "Do Eat" that has edible/compostable items 
    do eat

    Indonesia based "Evo & Co." that has compostables made out of seaweed

    Other companies working on more forward thinking products based out of beer waste too!

    Great disposable substitute IF needed especially with Covid-19


      • Must be composted!

      • Do not throw in with your recycling!! It can contaminate the entire batch depending on the recycler.

      • Biodegradable doesn't necessarily mean compostable - make sure to find certification

    Dose of reality...

    In 2012 - only 9% of 32 million tons of plastic waste generated in the U.S. was recycled

    Biodegradable but not certified compostable: these are bio-based or natural labeled products

    They have a chemical additive to allow them to speed up the breakdown process.

    This just means breaking into smaller bits of plastic called micro-plastics.

    They can still be created completely with fossil fuels 


    What can you do?! 

      Ask yourself - what will happen to this item when I'm done with it?

      Is there a location for me to compost it?

      If not, is there a way I can use an item that can be re-used and washed?

      What is the least amount of waste you can make possible? 

      reduce reuse recycle


      Thank you for sharing your time with me today! Please feel free to comment or provide feedback!! 




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