Disintegrating into natural elements while in a specific environment, leaving no toxicity in the soil.
The process of biodegradation under aerobic conditions  within a time frame of 6-12 weeks is called composting. When placed in an appropriate environment or facility, compostable products break plastic polymers down into CO2 all other ingredients into biomass or soil. This ‘appropriate environment’ consists of an ambient temperature between 50-70°C, the correct humidity, pressure, and appropriate numbers and types of microbes.
A consumer can either use home or industrial compost  :
- Home compost: A sealed unit that creates the previously mentioned environment, often using food scraps, plant matter and worms.
- Industrial compost: An industrial facility, often run by the city or local government, that takes and processes industrially approved material for large-scale composting. Industrial facilities create hotter environments with higher pressure than home composting.
The end product is soil or biomass that adds organic, natural and non-toxic nutrients to the soil.
The U.S. standard for testing industrial compostability is ASTM D6400  .
Home compostability certifications are very new to the market. Belgian organisation TUV has created a certification for home compostability, OK compost HOME  but it is yet to be widely adopted.
Why you should use compostable products.
Brands may opt for compostable materials as an alternative to petroleum-based plastics which, while, ‘biodegradable’, take 1000 years to break down.
Compostable products, under the right industrial environment, will break down into CO2 and valuable nutrients in 6-12 weeks.
Why you shouldn’t use compostable products
A brand that has in-depth knowledge of its customers may decide not to use compostable packaging as it knows that their customers don’t have access to the appropriate composting facilities.
Not all municipalities give residents access to composting facilities, and backyard composting is time, money and resource hungry. Backyard composting also may be unable to create an environment suitable to compost even certified materials  .
Many compostable products are designed to look and feel like what we’re familiar with - petroleum-based plastics. As a result, many users may by default throw these compostable resources in with traditional recycling. This puts more of a strain on already pushed recycling facilities.
Packhelp and compostable products.
Packhelp follows the compatibility standards of industrial compost systems, rather than home composting standards. Packhelp products that carry the compostable mark can, therefore, be recycled in municipal/industrial facilities.
Frequently asked questions:
- The process of biodegradation under aerobic conditions
- A consumer can either use home or industrial compost
- ASTM D6400 and the EU standard for testing industrial compostability is EN 13432[reference url="https://www.bpf.co.uk/topics/standards_for_compostability.aspx"]EN 13432
- OK compost HOME
- Certified Material
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