biodegradable plastic

Why choosing landfill-biodegradable plastic is the most logical choice

Why choosing landfill-biodegradable plastic is the most logical choice

Our use of plastic is increasing, and across the world, it is predicted to double by 2040. The current rate of plastic recycling in Australia is approximately 13%, which means more than 85% ends up in landfill and generating plastic waste.

Many consumers have an increased interest in reducing their own plastic waste or avoiding plastic altogether. But sometimes buying everyday plastic household items such as bin liners or dog waste bags is unavoidable, and people want more eco-friendly and plastic-smart options when purchasing plastic. With the recent suspension of REDcycle’s collection of soft plastics in supermarkets, it has also left people asking what we are meant to do now. Do we just throw single-use plastics in the bin? What is our next best eco-smart option?

Melbourne-based business, Biogone believes if single-use plastic must be used, it should be made to be recyclable or to biodegrade where it will be disposed of – in a landfill, commercial or home compost facility. Biogone is the leading plastic technology in Australia with an organic additive, which helps plastic biodegrade at approximately 90% faster than conventional plastics when it’s disposed to a modern landfill, which they call their landfill-biodegradable technology.

How does landfill-biodegradable plastic work?

The plant-based additive that Biogone adds in the plastic attracts microbes in landfill environments, and the microbes gradually digest the plastic. As they do this, the enzymes (that the microbes secrete) break the carbon bonds in the plastic molecule, allowing the microbes to digest them for their energy. As more enzymes are secreted, more atoms are removed from the plastic molecule (called depolymerisation) which the microbes can digest.

Biogone landfill-biodegradable plastics have the sturdiness and versatility of traditional plastics but break down in landfill over a period of tens of years – compared to traditional plastics taking up to hundreds of years to break down. Biogone landfill-biodegradable products can be reused and recycled with other mainstream soft plastics and have REDcycle approval.

Unlike conventional ‘oxo-degradable’ plastic, Biogone’s landfill biodegradable plastic does not break up into microplastics in air and sunlight. From 2022, oxo-degradable technology will be phased out under the 2025 National Plastic Plan, and Biogone supports this ban.

What is home compostable plastic?

There are two types of compostable plastic – home compostable and commercial compostable.

Home compostable plastics have an extra component in them, which is a highly biodegradable material. This allows home compostable products to biodegrade in cooler temperatures such as home compost bins or landfills. Their biodegradation rates are longer than commercial compost facilities but still relatively fast being several months up to 1-2 years, depending on the plastic thickness.

Home compostable plastic can be disposed of in a commercial compost facility (if available), home compost pile (based on the continents and residue) or in a rubbish bin destined for landfill. However, home compostable plastic packaging is not recyclable and generally is not as sturdy as Biogone’s landfill biodegradable plastics. Biogone’s home compostable products are certified for home composability in accordance with Australian/NZ standard AS5810.

What is commercial compostable plastic?

Commercial compostable packaging will biodegrade under commercial composting conditions as per AS4736. Currently, in Australia, there are several limitations for commercial compostable plastics that make them not a sustainable option because for a compostable plastic to biodegrade, it must be in a commercial compost facility with temperatures of 60 degrees Celsius, plenty of oxygen and good moisture levels. If those conditions are not met, the compostable plastic will not biodegrade as the microorganisms need those conditions to live.

Due to their different composition, compostable plastics cannot be recycled with mainstream soft plastics. Their materials have different properties and would contaminate other conventional plastics if they were mixed. There are very few commercial compost facilities in Australia, making it very unlikely that commercially compostable plastic will ever be transported there. Therefore, if the plastic cannot be collected and delivered to a commercial compost facility, the alternative option for disposal is a general rubbish bin destined for a landfill, where it will not biodegrade anytime soon.

Both home and commercial compostable materials require a specific set of moisture, heat, and oxygen to break down into a nutrient-rich organic material.

Is biodegradable, home or commercial compostable packaging better?

While they are all eco-friendly packaging options, it comes down to disposal:

  • Biogone’s landfill-biodegradable plastic is recyclable with other soft plastics (when available) and biodegrades in landfill, is strong like conventional plastic and does not have a shelf life
  • Home compostable plastics can be disposed of in home compost (depending on the contents) and can be disposed of in the general rubbish bin. However, they can’t be recycled and have a shelf life.
  • Unfortunately due to the lack of infrastructure and commercial compost facilities to collect, sort and process commercial compostable packaging, the most common and convenient option is the general rubbish bin which does not have the right conditions to biodegrade

What kind of eco-smart plastic will you choose?

Biogone’s landfill-biodegradable plastic is the logical solution in most cases as it is recyclable and sturdy; however, when it cannot be recycled, it can be disposed of to a landfill where it will naturally biodegrade over time. Alternatively, home compostable packaging is a great eco-friendly option depending on the use and disposal options available.

Check out Biogone’s range of landfill-biodegradable and home-compostable products including dog waste bags, bin liners, cling wrap and much more!

WellBeing Team

WellBeing Team

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