Have questions about our compostable packaging? We have your answers! We understand that this is a tricky subject to navigate and that you’ll have many questions about what you’re signing up for before your jump head-first into the world of compostable packaging.
1. What sets your compostable bags apart from other companies?
Unlike our competitors, the materials we use are fully compostable! This means our packages won’t degrade into microplastics, and the material will safely compost back into the earth.
2. Where can the package be placed to decompose?
Right in your backyard! Our films and inks are certified home compostable, while our zippers and valves are certified industrial compostable! To compost at home, cut off the zipper and valve (if applicable) and dispose of them separately.
3. What is the difference between home and industrial composting?
The main difference between home and industrial composting are the conditions the compost is in. At home, where the compost is often left outside, the temperatures are cooler and it’s difficult to mimic the heat an industrial composting plant produces. The industrial composting process is much more controlled – by adding heat, oxygen, microbes, and other materials to aid in the process, a product that may take 8-12 months to decompose at home, may take less than 6 months at an industrial composting facility. Check out the Standards for Compostability EN 13432 for more information on composting.
4. Can I place it in my green bin that gets picked up by the city?
Unfortunately for the time being, our packages can’t be placed in your green bin – but it’s not for the reason that you might be thinking! Our compostable packaging is compostable, but it’s just too convincing of a plastic replicate that it is impossible to differentiate it from regular plastics at first glance. This means that it gets sorted out of the compost and sent to the landfill. For now, you’ll have to continue composting it at home or bring it to a private facility that accepts compostable packaging for industrial composting.
5. If my package ends up in the landfill, will it still compost?
This is a tricky (but good) question! Essentially, nothing fully breaks down in a landfill, even organic matter, because landfills are inherently lacking the right environment for degradation – that’s why we see that landfills are eventually capped and the land cannot continue to be reused as a landfill. But the good news is that the compostable materials won’t be leeching harmful chemicals like plastics do during that time, it won’t turn into a microplastic and pollute our waters, and since the compostable packaging is made from renewable resources and sustainable forestry initiatives, it has a much cleaner pre-lifecycle footprint than plastics do.
6. How long will it take for the bag to decompose?
The compostable packaging we’ve developed can decompose at home in ~8-12 months! If brought to an industrial composting facility, our compostable packaging can take 6 months or less to decompose! Our compostable materials are verified by a third party to be home compostable, industrial compostable, or both.
7. What makes your compostable bags compostable? How can they look so shiny without any plastic?
● We offer two different types of compostable packaging: paper and non-paper. Both our products have a base layer made from cellulose, which is basically just wood chips ground to pulp to make a clear film.
● For our paper packages, we use kraft or white paper (like a sturdier version of those brown bag lunches you used to get as a kid!); paper is naturally compostable.
● For our metalized compostable, we use a thin layer of aluminum combined with our cellulose layer to create the barrier layer – when the cellulose breaks down it leaves behind the aluminium, which is inert.
● Our compostable cellulose bags have a natural shine, often surprising clients and customers that they are fully compostable.
8. How well does the compostable packaging preserve my products? Will it stay as fresh as it does in conventional plastic packaging?
Yes, our compostable packaging maintains the freshness of your product like conventional packaging would. However, due to the natural material base, compostable packaging itself does have a shorter lifespan than conventional packaging (in our defence, forever is a tough one to beat!). Our packaging can withstand normal conditions such as the grocery store shelf, your customer’s pantry, and it’s even freezer-grade! Our compostable packaging will remain shelf-stable for up to 2 years under controlled conditions. It’s important to remember that packaging made from natural materials may behave differently when in contact with other products (naturally)! We always recommend that clients order some samples and test their products inside of these bags over a period of time to determine suitability. As always, a chat with our Sales team to discuss your specific product needs is never a bad idea!
9. I hear the word ‘biodegradable’ being used a lot – is that the same thing as being compostable?
Terminology in the sustainable industry can be very confusing. While many companies use the term “biodegradable”, it is a catch-all term and does not have the same meaning as “compostable”. The term “biodegradable” refers to a material’s ability to break down into smaller micro pieces in nature but does not mean that it will turn into a natural product. Bioplastic, for instance, is considered biodegradable, but while it can degrade in the environment, it remains a plastic and won’t turn into a natural material. Often, the term “biodegradable” is used to embellish the green profile of the product and falsify the belief that the item is made from organic matter, and therefore is compostable. This is not the case. The term “compostable” refers to the material’s ability to fully return to the earth and cause no harm to the environment.
10. While we’re on the topic of plastics, how do they impact the environment? Isn’t it good that plastics breakdown so they don’t take up space?
When plastic breaks down, it becomes a microplastic which, in most cases can only be seen under a microscope, although they can be as large as 5mm. But just because it’s harder to see the microplastic, doesn’t mean that it’s not there! Most microplastics still end up in our oceans, drinking water, and even in marine animals, but unlike regular pollution, is nearly impossible to clean up, leaving more of an environmental impact than most people realize! Recent studies show that humans ingest thousands of microplastics a year through dust in the air, plastic packaging, drinking water, and eating animals that have microplastics in them (just to name a few). So while bioplastics seem like a good solution at first glance, they are extremely harmful to the environment. Remember, even if the plastic isn’t as in-our-face as we’re used to, it’s still impacting us daily in more ways than we are consciously aware of. For more information on microplastics, see PAC’s resource.
11. Will the compostable packaging impact my design?
Good question! When choosing our compostable products, customers should keep the following in mind:
● Believe it or not, compostable packaging will not diminish the colour of the inks on your package at all! In fact, our inks continue to be vibrant and colourful on our paper and cellulose options!
● Compostable materials can sometimes be a little rougher around the edges. You might see some tiny burrs on the cut lines or tear notches which have not fully been detached. This is normal – because of the film stiffness, they can be more difficult to cut.
● Mother Nature is great at a lot of things, but ironing isn’t one of them! The compostable films can sometimes have a covert wrinkly or wavy appearance. This usually becomes indiscernible after printing, and we think it adds character!
● Being a role model can be exhausting, and while our packaging tries to live up to today’s beauty standards sometimes its natural aging will start to show. Over a period of time you might find that any unsealed edges begin to show a slight curl, but don’t fret – it’s what’s on the inside that counts!
12. Can I still have a product window with compostable packaging?
Yes! Windows are still an option for compostable packaging. However, due to the nature of the compostable materials, it won’t have the same ‘freshly cleaned windshield’ effect you’re used to with plastic and will have a slightly diminished clarity.
13. Is there a way I can let my customers know the packaging is compostable, and how they can safely compost it?
Often customers ask us if they can make claims like “100% Compostable” or “Fully Biodegradable” on their packaging – in short, no (at least not yet!). We are committed to being transparent about the proper disposal of our products, and we don’t want to mislead anyone along the way. That’s why we’ve created an informative compostable logo that we require to be placed in a visible location on every package. This way, your customers are able to acquire more information about your compostable packaging and are informed on how to properly dispose of it – no confusing claims or misleading statements required!
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