Compostable Plastics vs Biodegradable Plastics
The term biodegradability can be very confusing to the Australian consumer. At Biotuff, we understand this can be a problem for many wanting to make an eco-friendly choice. There are three primary choices for plastic in Australia:
Certified Compostable Plastics for home or commercial composting
When these break down, they do not leave any toxic residue behind and are made from 100% natural and renewable sources.
Landfill-Biodegradable or Biodegradable Plastic
These are a mixture of biodegradable and traditional plastics that will leave some toxic residue behind, and microplastics.
Traditional Plastic / Virgin Plastic
This plastic takes hundreds of years to decompose and will leave a mass of toxins and microplastics behind.
Certified compostable plastics can be transformed into nutrient-rich soils, they also leave no nasty residues behind. Landfill biodegradable plastics will disintegrate faster than traditional plastics; however, they will leave some form of toxic residue behind, as most are created by mixing biodegradable elements alongside conventional or virgin plastic.
Certified compostable plastics will NOT leave toxic residue or microplastics behind, regardless of the environment they breakdown in.
How Long Does It Take To Breakdown?
Biotuff – Our Fight Against Traditional Plastics
- According to research, by 2050, the world will produce 26 billion metric tonnes of traditional plastic waste, which will mostly end up in landfills.
- Certified compostable plastics are the way of the future; they break down much quicker than traditional plastic, even in a landfill, while leaving no toxic residue behind.
- Certified compostable plastics can be transformed into nutrient-rich soils in the proper facilities.
- Certified compostable plastics help the circular economy.
- Soft plastic is not going anywhere soon; it’s time to make the switch for future generations and the planet's health.
- Reports indicate that 51% of Australian homeowners are more likely to be driven to reduce waste to save money, while only 16% are reducing waste for environmental purposes.
- Most compostable items will end up in landfills because the facilities needed to compost these items are not readily available. Biotuff wants to see change in this space and more facilities being created to support compostable plastics while seeing the abolishment of traditional, virgin, and mixed landfill biodegradable plastics.
Biotuff: The Only Solution
- The Biotuff range of certified compostable plastics offers an affordable and convenient solution for bin liners, kitchen products, dog waste bags, nappy bags, and council bin liners.
- Biotuff understands the importance of convenience in our fast-paced, busy world; we know our customers want reliable, eco-friendly products that offer ease of use and disposal.
- Biotuff believes all products should be reusable, 100% recyclable, or compostable to encourage the circular economy.
- Biotuff wants all traditional plastics that cannot be 100% recycled and those deemed landfill biodegradable eliminated to remove microplastics from our precious ecosystems, oceans, and the air we breathe.
Understanding Biodegradable and Compostable Plastics: From Environmental Impact to Circular Economy
At Biotuff, we understand that many consumers need clarification regarding the different types of plastics available today. With the traditional plastic and petroleum industry worth billions of dollars and only expected to grow – greenwashing tactics based on confusion are rife. Understanding how different plastics are produced, sold, and recycled is essential to all eco-conscious individuals to ensure you invest in the correct product for your needs.
Are biodegradable plastics and compostable plastics the same thing?
No, biodegradable plastics are often mixed with traditional or virgin plastic to make the product. Most will leave some toxic residue behind or microplastics that harm the environment. Certified compostable plastics will completely break down, leaving no harmful residue or microplastics.
Can compostable plastics break down in landfills?
Even though this is not ideal, compostable plastics will eventually break down in landfills and leave no toxic residue behind. However, if commercially composted, they will break down quickly and help produce nutrient-rich soils. Compostable material requires the following environmental conditions to fully decompose in a short period of time. Carbon Dioxide, Water, and Biomass in heat/moisture-controlled compounds. This procedure can also be achieved if the material is disposed of in a landfill but may take longer to decompose. Home compost bin disposal can take upwards of 4 months to fully decompose into nutrient-rich fertilizer.
Why should I only invest in certified compostable products?
Compostable products have stringent rules and regulations to be certified compostable. The testing procedure is incredibly complex, even testing the effect the product has on the earthworms. Always look for the certified logos containing the Australian Standards accredited certified compostable AS4736 and AS5810 on the packaging:
Biotuff is also a proud member of the Australasian Bioplastics Association.
I only use recyclable plastics, so why should I switch to compostable?
Most soft plastics cannot be recycled, with many ending up in landfills. These can take hundreds of years to break down while leaving behind toxic components and microplastics. Sadly, many products with a recycled symbol don’t have the facilities to recycle these items – causing stress on our landfills and the planet. Click here to learn more about the most common recycle logos and how easily they can be recycled.
Commercial Composting Lifecycle
Certified compostable products meeting AS 4736–2006 standards endure rigorous testing for biodegradability, disintegration, and eco-toxicity. Validation by the Australasian Bioplastics Association assures consumers of compliance. Once used, these products reach one of Australia's 150 commercial composting facilities. In this controlled environment, they efficiently break down, contributing to nutrient-rich compost. This compost, enriched with organic matter from certified compostable products, can take around 90 days to become golden-rich soil.
Home Composting Lifecycle
Home composting is a personal endeavour for waste reduction in Australian homes. Individuals choose a compost bin or create a compost heap, achieving a balance of "brown" and "green" materials for efficient decomposition. Regular turning, moisture maintenance, and patience lead to nutrient-rich compost. This home-produced compost enriches garden soils around our nation. Home composting certifications take longer than aerobic (industrial composting), and can take up to several months to completely break down.
How do compostable plastics help the circular economy?
The circular economy model works by extending the use of our resources and ensuring they are kept in a circular motion – for example, the compostable disposable sandwich bag that goes into a composting facility and is turned into soil. The circular economy also involves retrieving and rejuvenating products after their lifespan, meaning products can either be repurposed into something else - 100% recycled or remade. This also includes transforming waste into golden soil from food waste and compostable products. The circular model is recognised as a more sustainable alternative, aiming to tackle challenges inherent in the linear extraction, production, consumption, and disposal approach. To learn more about the circular economy, take a look here.