The spotlight increasingly turns towards compostable alternatives in the ever-evolving sustainability landscape, sparking curiosity about their origins and eco-friendly credentials. For some, the idea of composting can be confusing. At Biotuff, we are passionate about education and love everything to do with nutrient-rich soil and saving our environment.
Compost, compost, compost! Who doesn’t love transforming our trash into golden-rich soils perfect for growing food and feeding our urban landscapes and gardens? But what is the difference between industrial composting and home composting? And how do they test all the certified compostable products? Biotuff has you covered…
Commercial Composting 101: Unveiling the Process
When a product bears the certified compostable label, it finds its destined home in commercial composting or organics recycling facilities. Products adhering to the Commercial Composting Australian Standard AS 4736–2006 and verified by the Australasian Bioplastics Association proudly showcase the ABA Seedling Composting logo.
The AS 4736–2006 Standard sets the bar for companies and individuals, outlining the requirements and procedures for determining the compostability of plastics. It covers biodegradability, disintegration during biological treatment, the impact on the treatment process, and the quality of the resulting compost. This rigorous standard offers a basis for labelling materials as 'compostable,' ensuring they can be efficiently processed in municipal or commercial composters.
Certified compostable products become essential as communities adopt source separation systems to divert food waste from landfills. The Seedling Composting logo becomes a beacon, assuring consumers and recyclers that these products will seamlessly biodegrade in well-managed systems.
The Unique Landscape of Australian Commercial Composting
Australia boasts approximately 150 commercial composting and organics recycling facilities. Some councils facilitate composting through green organics, garden waste bins, or dedicated organic recycling services. For details on these facilities, local councils and the Australian Organics Recycling Association can provide valuable information.
Testing the Waters: The Rigorous Certification Process for Compostable Plastics
The world of compostable plastics is a realm of stringent testing and certification. As Biotuff unravels the process, consumers gain insight into eco-friendly plastics' journey from production to accreditation.
Production & Testing: Manufacturers submit compostable plastic materials for testing post-production to ensure they can degrade in a composting environment.
Gaining Compliance: Products undergo thorough testing to meet the standards outlined in AS 4736 and AS 5810. Compliance includes assessments of biodegradability, disintegration, and eco-toxicity.
Independent Validation: Successful certification allows manufacturers to seek validation from organizations like the Australasian Bioplastics Association (ABA). Certificates and logos are then issued for display on packaging.
- Labelling Products: Properly labelling products with certifications ensures consumers can make informed choices, distinguishing between suitability for home or industrial composting.
Decoding the Testing Process for Compostable Plastics
The Australian standards AS 4736 and AS 5810 subject compostable plastics to comprehensive tests, ensuring they meet strict regulations. The tests include biodegradability, disintegration, eco-toxicity, chemical analysis, visual assessments, and measurements of physical properties.
Unveiling the Impact on Worms and the Environment
Even the humble earthworm has a role in the certification process. The AS 4736 standard ensures that the difference in morbidity or mean weight of surviving worms between test and control compost is not greater than 10%. This underscores the commitment to environmental health, even at the microscopic level.
Ink Matters: A Safe Choice for Worms and the Environment
Biotuff's compostable bags use food-grade plant-based ink, ensuring safety for humans and earthworms. Derived from renewable plant sources, these inks decompose without leaving harmful residues, aligning with the brand's commitment to environmental responsibility.
Getting Savvy with Compostable Plastics: A Call to Action
With a newfound understanding of the certification process, consumers can make informed choices that align with their environmental ethics. Biotuff encourages everyone to look beyond the logos, dive into certifications, and contribute to a greener, brighter future by choosing compostable plastics wisely. In the battle against greenwashing, education emerges as a powerful tool for creating lasting change and a sustainable tomorrow.
Embarking on Home Composting: A Personal Touch to Sustainability
While commercial composting plays a crucial role in waste management, individuals can amplify their impact by composting at home. Here's a beginner's guide to kickstarting your composting journey:
- Select a Suitable Container - Choose a compost bin or build a simple compost heap in your backyard. Ensure proper aeration with ventilation holes.
- Add Brown and Green Materials - Balance is essential. "Brown" materials like dried leaves and newspaper provide carbon, while "green" materials like kitchen scraps offer nitrogen. Aim for a good balanced mix to facilitate decomposition.
- Turn and Mix - Regularly turn the compost to aerate it. Mixing helps distribute moisture and speeds up the decomposition process.
- Maintain Moisture - Keep the compost moist but not soggy. Adequate moisture supports microbial activity, aiding in the breakdown of organic matter.
- Patience is a Virtue - Composting takes time. Be patient as nature works its magic. Your compost is ready when it becomes dark, crumbly, and earthy-smelling.
- Avoid Adding Certain Items - Skip dairy, meat, bones and oily items to prevent unpleasant odours and attract pests.
- Use Compost: Once ready, use your compost to enrich garden soil. Your efforts contribute to reducing waste and fostering a healthier environment right in your backyard.
By embracing commercial and home composting, individuals can actively participate in the global movement towards sustainable waste management and environmental preservation. Happy gardening!