IN AN INDUSTRY WITH A LINGO OF ITS OWN
Terms and Definitions
I'm Well Defined
HOME COMPOSTABLE / HOME COMPOSTING
As more and more people become conscious of the waste generated by their own household and desire to reduce how much they send to landfill, home composting is increasing. Home composting is ideal for fruit and veg scraps, leaves, sticks, twigs and newspapers, lawn clippings, egg shells, coffee grounds, tea leaves etc.
Packaging materials can be certified ‘Home Compostable’ if they conform to the Australian Standard AS 5810-2010 or the OK Home Compost Standard.
Products in our comPOST Range carry either or both of these certifications.
Certified Compostable materials must meet the following four criteria:
- Biodegradability – Determined by measuring the amount of CO2 produced over a certain time period by the biodegrading plastic.
- Disintegration – Measured by sieving the material to determine the biodegraded size and that less than 10% remains on a 2mm screen within a certain number of days.
- Eco-Toxicity – Measured by testing the concentrations of heavy metals to ensure that they are below the limits set by the standards and by testing plant growth by mixing the compost with soil in different concentrations and comparing plant growth in test and controlled compost samples.
COMMERCIALLY COMPOSTABLE / INDUSTRIALLY COMPOSTABLE
Commercial or industrial composting is large-scale composting which is designed to handle a very high volume of organic waste, as opposed to private or home composting, which handles organic waste from one household or facility.
Some materials will decompose under certain conditions which can only be achieved in commercial composting facilities, the key condition being the temperature reached in the compost.
Our comPOST Packs are commercially compostable (as well as Home Compostable).
The composting industry is developing across most regions in Australia and New Zealand to be able to process compostable packaging, however not all of these facilities can process compostable packaging. Please check with your local Organic Waste management facility or council before adding compostable packaging to your organic waste collection.
BIO-DEGRADABLE / BIO-DEGRADATION
Bio-degradation is the disintegration of materials by bacteria, fungi, or other biological means. If a material is bio-degradable (sometimes written biodegradable), it is able to be broken down by bio-degradation.
Bio-degradable plastics can be either made from bio-plastics or from traditional petrochemicals engineered to break down more quickly than normal plastics. Caution needs to be exercised with these plastics as they may break down into microplastic particles and the additives required to accelerate the degradation process can be toxic to the environment.
It is important to note that unlike compostable products – there is no requirement for products labelled `biodegradable’ to meet any eco-toxicity or break-down timeframe requirements.
OXO-DEGRADABLE / OXO-DEGRADATION
Oxo-degradable means a material will break down with exposure to oxygen. Oxo-degradable plastics are being produced and sold in many countries, with society being led to believe they safely bio-degrade in nature. Yet significant research suggests that oxo-degradable plastics do not safely biodegrade but fragment into small pieces, contributing to microplastics pollution. “The available evidence overwhelmingly suggests oxo-degradable plastics do not achieve what their producers claim and instead contribute to microplastic pollution. In addition, these materials are not suited for effective long-term reuse, recycling at scale or composting, meaning they cannot be part of a circular economy.” – Rob Opsomer, Lead for Systemic Initiatives at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Some of the (totally misleading) brand names given to oxo-degradable bags and other products are BioWrap for magazines, EP Tech “biodegradable” bags and bin liners … you know, the ones with the green frog on them.