Biodegradable & home compostable bags

If you’ve read my previous posts, you will know one of my main concerns with Pikolo, was the packaging bags. I hated the fact they came in plastic, but it was at the time the only option to get them here unharmed. Lots of wasted and or spoilt stock would have had an equally damaging result for the environment in wasted garments.
I spoke to the factory and asked if we could work towards a better solution. I know the other brands the factory works with also had similar goals. So with much kudos on the factories part & hard work from them, we now have fully compostable – both in home composters and commercial, fully biodegradable packing bags.

I don’t want to green wash, as with anything. There are limitations to how ‘green’ this product and a packaging material is, but I think its definitely a big, great, step forward.

The positives…
They are made from corn starch, which in itself is a very easy, low water crop to grow.
Corn starch plastic needs 65% less energy to be produced than conventional petroleum based plastics and of course, the main benefit is they are not petroleum based at all.
In a home or commercial composter it should break down & become a soil enricher with-in 2-3 months.
They can be home composted at low temperatures.
It comes from a renewable source, which can be planted again.
These will not emit toxic gasses or heavy metals as they contains no toxins.

The negatives…
But not all bio plastics are as good as they claim! Many won’t be suitable for home composters (ours are) and as with a plastic bag, if its ends up in landfill it’s no different & potentially more harmful as it breaks down & gives off methane.
Also as with a plastic bag, it was to get into the marine system, it would not degrade, meaning it could cause harm to marine life.
Which is why how you use & dispose of these bags is equally important as it it was plastic.

What if you don’t have access to home or commercial composting?
If your waste is incinerated then putting them in general waste is an option, as above it wouldn’t sit in landfill and produce methane if it was to degrade.
As with a plastic bag, the best use is to reuse as many times as possible, then compost.
Most importantly they must not be put in with normal plastic/card recycling bin, as this would contaminate the batch. 

Food or garden waste collection
You can check if your local authority does a food caddy collection here. These corn starch bags should be fine for caddy liners, but check with your local authority first.
Another page that might be useful is this one to have a look at general recycling is this one, it highlights that anything with the seedling logo can be put in garden waste. Please do check with your local authority for clarification.

Logos to look out for

Europe – Vinçotte; is a Belgian accredited inspection and certification organisation, also provide testing for the Australian certifications.
Packaging or products featuring the OK compost label are guaranteed as biodegradable in an industrial composting plant. This applies to all components, inks and additives. The sole reference point for the certification programme is the harmonised EN 13432: 2000 standard.
OK compost – certified are those that compost only in industrial composting facilities (at temperatures between 55 to 60°C).
OK compost HOME – refers to products that will compost at lower temperatures, so they can go into the compost heap in your garden at home, hence the title “HOME”.
USA – certified as meeting ASTM D6400 and/or ASTM D6868 can use the logo to provide assurance of compostability or biodegradability of the finished products. Not widely recognised in New Zealand as it refers to commercial composting in the USA.
Australasia – Closest to home is the Australian certifications from the Australasian Bioplastics Association (ABA), designed to be the standards for ‘down under’. AS4736-2006 – A localised version of the EN13432 OK Compost standard, with some important additions that must be met:
 Minimum of 90% biodegradation of plastic materials within 180 days in compost
 Minimum of 90% of plastic materials should disintegrate into less than 2mm pieces in compost within 12 weeks
 No toxic effect of the resulting compost on plants and earthworms.
 Hazardous substances such as heavy metals should not be present above maximum allowed levels
 Plastic materials should contain more than 50% organic materials.
AS5810-2010 – Specifically tailored to home composting, it provides the same standard as 4736-2006 with a little leniency for home environments, which are;
 Slightly extended degradation time parameters
 Lesser temperature requirements to achieve degradation
Symbol information is from a wonderful site called Earth Starch.

Although not perfect, I hope you can see the benefits with using these bags.
More change needs to be done globally and locally. If you don’t have a local food or garden waste collection, perhaps that could be something you could ask your local MP’s to really get behind & ask what future plans are with this.
In Worcester I know there is an incentive to have local composting service by 2023. Something I will be following & hopefully getting involved in.