People are increasingly moving from plastics to sustainable disposable packaging. Unfortunately, most of them aren't yet aware of the best way to dispose of these packaging, making our efforts to save the environment from pollution vanity.
Probably, the problem starts when people get confused about the difference between compostable and biodegradable items. Some would ask, "Is it okay to throw compostable straws and coffee cups in a regular trash?"
Before we guide you on how to dispose of compostable packaging, let's help you understand something here. Although compostable and biodegradable items are often used interchangeably, they don't mean the same thing.
A biodegradable item is an object that can be decomposed by microorganisms such as bacteria. On the other hand, a compostable item is something usable as compost when it decays.
Although biodegradable items can break down in the presence of bacterial and microorganisms activities, it doesn't mean they're safe for the environment. For instance, some plastics biodegrade in about 20 years, but they're still unsafe for the planet.
When something is said to be compostable, it can break down to form nutrient-rich compost because it's made of organic matter.
So, is it safe to dispose of compostable packaging and plastic cups in the regular trash? Unfortunately, it's unsafe. Although they're made of organic material, they take years to decompose, while food and garden waste only take weeks to break down into organic matter. Instead, consider throwing it into a general waste bin.
What's the best disposal option?
The best answer is home composting. But maybe you'd ask, "Why should I not take the packaging to a recycling facility near me?"
Compostable packaging won't break down in the absence of a composting environment, thus ruling out recycling facilities' suitability.
Home compost heaps and industrial composting facilities have a suitable composting environment, and you should consider them when disposing of your compostable packaging.
Home composting is the easiest method of getting rid of compostable packaging. Here is a simple guide of home composting compostable packaging materials.
Step1. Get a compost bin and place it in a small garden space.
Step2. Put the compostable packaging in the compost bin.
Step3. Add organic wastes such as pets droppings, yard clippings, kitchen wastes and garden wastes on top.
Step4. Add wormeries to accelerate the composting process.
Step5. Turn the waste layers regularly. Once the waste is fully composted, you it in your garden to enrich the soil.
Challenges posed by compostable packaging
Although many UK residents are transiting from plastics to compostable items, industrial-scale composting isn't yet available to regular punters. Many people who don't have enough garden to create a compost resolve to take their compostable waste to recycling plants. Since most UK recyclers don't have composting equipment, they incinerate the compostable packaging or send it to landfills.
Compostable materials still decompose in landfills, but they take longer than if composted in a specialized compost facility. Besides, it's hard to separate the composted materials from the trash and use them as fertilizer.