Keep Calm and Compost

Keep Calm and Compost

Demand for compostable packaging products is growing, as they are often lauded as a better alternative than biodegradable products. In many ways, that’s true. However, the vast majority of consumers see the word “compostable” and believe their environmental contribution begins and ends with the purchase. That isn’t quite the case.

Compostable products include additives that require specific levels of temperature, light and moisture to break down into compost. Biodegradable products, on the other hand, naturally degrade into smaller pieces over time. That’s not to say compostable products don’t have the potential to benefit the environment; they just require a proper composting facility to do so properly. Unfortunately, many cities do not offer compostable waste separation services. If we separate organic waste, we will cut down on greenhouse gas emissions and our reliance on landfills by turning items such as PLA cutlery, food scraps and yard waste into compost and, ultimately, clean energy.

TigerGreen’s corn starch PLA straws, for instance, effectively break down under the right conditions. In a landfill, however, they can remain intact for decades.

It is difficult for those of us in the food disposables industry to educate the consumer base on these differences, because we do not have the resources to do so. Consumers, including restaurants and food companies, need to make educated decisions regarding the packaging products they buy and/or produce. But how?

To start, I encourage government agencies to offer more compostable services and produce marketing campaigns that effectively educate the public. Consumers want to make a difference, so it’s important they understand how to compost products and minimize their impact on the environment.

At Tiger, we have the resources to provide the product, but when it comes to ensuring the environmental benefit, it takes a chain of events — and the actions of several — to see that product through to its composted completion.