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Answering common, tricky questions about compostable packaging

Answering common, tricky questions about compostable packaging

Recently there has been a peaked interested in compostable packaging, so we put together this guide to help you answer the trickier questions in a clear and concise way. You could circulate it among your staff to get the whole team confidently discussing your sustainable packaging choices!


Q. How do I commercially compost your packaging?

A. If you opt for organic waste collection with a commercial compost facility nearby:

Keep doing what you're doing or return them to Ecoware if you're in Auckland - we have a dedicated organic bin to collect food scraps and compostable packaging. It's then picked up and taken to a nearby commercial compost facility. Or, if you have a home compost bin, you could try shredding the packaging and trial how it breaks down in your heap, but just keep in mind that it will take much longer to break down.

 OR

A: If you live in an area where commercial composting is currently limited and/or choose not to use organic waste collection services yet:

There are certain areas in New Zealand where accessibility to commercial composting is limited at the moment, and the most common disposal option for compostable packaging is landfill. However, it's not all bad news! If you need to use takeaway packaging, compostable packaging is still MUCH better than using traditional plastic packaging because it is made from plants as opposed to fossil fuel, i.e. a renewable resource vs a non-renewable resource. The bioplastic we prefer to use emits up to 80% less greenhouse gas emissions during manufacture compared to traditional PET and PS (polystyrene). So where the disposal and composting options are not perfect in your area, you can rest assured you're still using a product that is a more sustainable option.

 

Q. I'm a customer, and I can't bring my Ecoware packaging back to you, so it'll just end up in landfill…?

A. There are certain areas in New Zealand where accessibility to commercial composting is limited at the moment, and the only disposal option for compostable packaging is landfill. However, it's not all bad news! Using compostable packaging is still MUCH better than using traditional plastic packaging because it is made from plants as opposed to fossil fuel, i.e. a renewable resource vs a non-renewable resource. The bioplastic we prefer to use emits up to 80% less greenhouse gas emissions during manufacture compared to traditional PET and PS (polystyrene). So where the disposal and composting options are not perfect in your area, you can rest assured you're still using a product that is a more sustainable option.

 

Q. Where are the commercial compost facilities in NZ?

A. Take a look at the Ecoware website. There is a map pinpointing all the locations across the country that accept compostable packaging. There are nearly 100 community and commercial facilities, and currently, 13 accept and process Ecoware packaging into compost.

 

Q. What does commercial composting even mean? How is it different from home composting?

A. For something to be sold as "commercially compostable" it has to have been tested and certified to prove that it will:

  • - Biodegrade completely
  • - Biodegrade completely within 90 days
  • - And leave only non-toxic biomass behind.

Most Ecoware products are certified commercially compostable because they break down in 90 days. This is because commercial compost facilities are a controlled environment maintaining high temperatures of around 65C. So can Ecoware products break down in a home compost bin? We don't recommend it unless the product is specifically certified "home compostable". However, really depends on your compost heap – usually, home composts are cold, and therefore it takes a lot longer for packaging to break down. Some customers have trialled Ecoware products in their home compost bins and been successful.

 

Q. Can I put compostable packaging in my home bin?

A. Some of our Ecoware products are certified for home composting and can most certainly be disposed of in your home compost bin – like our sugarcane tableware and bin liners. However, the majority of Ecoware packaging is certified for commercial composting. We do not recommend that certified commercially compostable products are disposed of in a home compost bin due to the lack of high temperature and inconsistent conditions. However, some customers have trialled Ecoware products in their home compost bins and been successful.

 

If there are other questions you would like us to answer, please do let us know, we are here to help.