Source: Myerton Packaging
What is Composting?
Composting is nature’s ingenious way of recycling organic materials. In recent years, custom packaging that can be composted has gained traction. Two types of compostable packaging are leading the way: home compostable and industrial compostable. But which is more environmentally friendly?
The Rise of Home Compostable Packaging
What is Home Compostable Packaging?
Home compostable packaging is designed to decompose in a backyard composting environment. Made primarily from natural materials, such as cornstarch or sugarcane, these packaging materials break down efficiently when exposed to natural elements in a home compost bin or pile. Natureflex bags now have been recongised as a great example of a home compostable packaging solution.
Benefits of Home Compostable Packaging
Reduced Carbon Footprint: Since home composting requires no transportation, it reduces the carbon emissions associated with hauling waste.
Consumer Control: Users can control the decomposition process, ensuring that their packaging leaves no trace behind.
Accessibility: Home compostable packaging can be composted by anyone with a compost setup, no matter where they live.
Reduction in Landfill Waste: Every piece of packaging composted at home is one less item in the landfill.
The Controversy Surrounding Industrial Compostable Packaging
What is Industrial Compostable Packaging?
Industrial compostable packaging requires a specific, controlled environment to decompose. These packages often need higher temperatures, available only in industrial composting facilities, to break down completely.
The Downside of Industrial Compostable Packaging
Accessibility Issues: Not every community has access to industrial composting facilities.
Carbon Emissions: The transportation of waste to these facilities contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.
Potential for Pollution: If not processed properly, industrial compostable products that end up in landfills can become pollutants. They don’t decompose as they would in the required controlled environments, potentially releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
Comparing Packaging Types Beyond Composting
Materials Used: Home compostable packaging often uses more natural ingredients, whereas industrial compostable packaging can include more complex materials that require the specific conditions of an industrial setup to break down.
Shelf Life: Home compostable packaging may have a shorter shelf life compared to its industrial counterpart due to its more organic composition.
Visual Appeal: Industrial compostable packages might sometimes appear more polished or refined because they can incorporate materials that aren’t as natural but provide a sleeker look.
The Future of Compostable Packaging
While both home and industrial compostable packaging represent steps forward in the fight against environmental degradation, they come with their pros and cons. Home compostable packaging, with its environmentally-friendly decomposition process and use of natural materials, seems to be a more sustainable choice for those able to compost at home. On the other hand, industrial compostable packaging can serve larger populations but might come with unseen environmental costs.
- What makes packaging “home compostable”?
Home compostable packaging is typically made from organic materials that can break down in a backyard compost setup.
- Is industrial compostable packaging harmful to the environment?
If not composted in the appropriate facilities, industrial compostable packaging can become pollutants in landfills.
- Can I throw home compostable packaging in my garden?
While it’s best to place them in a compost bin or pile, many home compostable packages will break down over time in a garden setting.
- Why aren’t all products packaged in home compostable materials?
Factors like the cost of materials, shelf life, and durability play a role in packaging choices.
- How can I ensure my packaging is home compostable?
Look for labels that certify the packaging as home compostable, and when in doubt, research the brand or product.