Why You Should Opt for Compostable Food Packaging Containers
One of the most frequent misconceptions regarding the use of compostable containers like the ones used for takeaway meals is that you can’t reap any benefit if it isn’t placed on the Brown bin.
Well, that isn’t totally the case. Though throwing your compostable packaging in the organic waste bin is the ideal situation, there are still several other benefits for using compostables, especially if you consider the “upstream” benefits:
“Upstream” benefits? How so?
“Upstream benefits” is a real term for environmental benefits that are reaped from the process of manufacturing these compostable products until they reach the final user.
Everything starts from the raw materials used that are sustainable, renewable resources. Most of these containers are corn, sugarcane or paper based. All of these are renewable by nature, unlike oil-based plastic.
The reap of upstream benefits continues with the substantially less greenhouse gas-emitting transformation process, mainly when compared to oil-based food packaging. More than that, the production doesn’t contain other toxic chemicals like styrene or benzene, harmful for workers.
Oil spills, chlorine bleaching and other dioxin releases are also all voided in PLA (bioplastic used in food containers) production while in the meantime using 68% fewer energy resources compared to traditional plastic manufacturing.
What about the “Downstream”?
So, the benefits are there before these products are disposed of, however, there is yet an important step to take since compostable products don’t decompose by themselves. The composting process requires the forwarding to a compostable facility where the entailed process will eventually decompose them in the space of a few months.
For commercial composting systems, these containers and other bioplastics can be degraded in up to 180 days. In case of a domestic system that can’t reach the high levels of heat used in commercial systems and depend on the owners’ input to regularly turn the pile, this process is expected to take more than 6 months.
Other variations in time frames are the thickness of the compostable food packaging products. Thicker products take longer to crumble but one tip to speed up the process used by commercial services is to grind and cut the items into smaller fragments.
Overall, the upstream benefits assure that compostable containers already take the edge over standard oil-based packaging but avoiding that they end up in landfills will really make all the difference. Landfills take much longer to decompose bioplastics because they are sealed below the surface minimising biodegradation. Though it is still better than regular plastic, the ideal solution is to forward the compostable items as much as possible to compostable facilities which will maximise the environmental gains.
Take the Initiative
Like any other environmentally friendly habit, it needs to start from somewhere. Opting for compostable containers will send a message to your customers that you care for the environment and that plastic-free packaging is the way to go. Subsequently, it also impacts the way local councils look at compostable facilities and how they can be a solution to the ever-growing piles in landfills even if your city doesn’t yet have one of these facilities.