What does plant based plastic mean? Is that disposable coffee cup really compostable? Do you add a biodegradable bag to the landfill, recycling bin or your home compost?
It’s great to see more brands becoming sustainable and eco-conscious, but with so many different terms out there it can be confusing to decipher what they all mean, how to dispose of products and packaging correctly and to decide what brands really are doing their bit for the planet!
Home compostable, biodegradable and recyclable are terms often used across a number of industries. Do you know the difference? No judgement if not! There’s often little education around these terms, and most of the time you need to do research yourself. We wanted to take the hard work out of it for you and give you some sustainable education that will help you make informed decisions about the products you buy.
A home compostable product is made from materials that will decompose into organic matter and can be used as compost once it’s broken down. This composting process will usually occur within 90 - 180 days without leaving anything behind; that’s no microplastics, no toxins and no trace.
Items labelled ‘home compostable’ can be added directly into your home compost or a neighbour’s/ community garden’s if you don’t have one! Anything that is sold as home compostable should be labelled with the Australian Standard AS 5810-2010 certification. If there is no labelling, look at the materials used to make the product, are they all natural like bamboo, cellulose or cotton? Then it’s home compostable!
Did you know that there is no home compostability standard for natural materials? That’s why, despite both our Compostable Bin Liners and Cellulose Sponges being home compostable, only our Bin Liners carry the AS 5810. Our Cellulose Sponges are made from cellulose (wood pulp) and cotton, two natural materials that will decompose into compost within a couple of weeks.
All home compostable products are biodegradable but not all biodegradable products are home compostable. Confused? We were too! Let us explain.
Biodegradable means that an item is capable of being broken down with the assistance of living things (bacteria, fungi or microbes). It does not mean that it will break down into usable organic matter that can be considered compost.
Biodegradable products should not be placed in your home compost unless specified on the packaging. This is because while some materials such as food will biodegrade within weeks, others like biodegradable plastics may take years.
Look out for the Australian Standard 4736-2006 which indicates that a product is biodegradable at a commercially compostable standard only. This means that it needs a specific environment and very high temperature to break down. Australia has very limited commercial composting facilities available and items labelled AS 4736 will not be accepted in your green organics waste bin.
If a product is labelled as biodegradable but not home compostable or recyclable then it should be placed in your red landfill bin.
Recycling is an amazing resource to keep products out of landfill. These products can be processed, cleaned, broken down and remade into new products.
Most items you purchase will be labelled with a logo indicating if it is recyclable or not but it’s important to check if your local council accepts this item. Our local Byron Shire council has a fantastic resource with an A-Z website of what we can and cannot add to our yellow recycling bin. Take a look and see if you can find one similar in your area.
Did you know that while most councils don’t accept soft plastics, Redcycle are a private company that have drop off points across Australia?
All of our products here at Seed & Sprout are built to last a lifetime, recyclable, home compostable or zero waste and we take pride in ensuring that our products don’t end up in landfills. We offer a Silicone Takeback Program through Terracycle where we recycle all of our silicone products as well as a textiles recycling partnership with Upparel where you can recycle our textile products should you wish!
What do I do if I don’t have home compost?
If you don’t have a home compost yet, consider getting one started. It’s a great way to feed your garden or your indoor houseplants for free, plus you can break down your own food waste and other composting items right at home. Check out our beginners guide here.
While not all products are made equally, a product labelled as compostable, biodegradable or recyclable is far and away better than one that isn’t. Our goal is always to avoid landfill, and it’s a great life mantra to live by!
We include care and end of life details on all of the products we sell but if you have any questions please do get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.