Messages

Compostable vs. Biodegradable

July 17, 2018

My last article touched on recycling and how our focus needs to be on reducing & reusing and now will dig a little into composting and biodegradable products.

It seems like common sense that something biodegradable must be good for the environment. Break down the word and you have bio and degradable; will degrade naturally. But like most modern “Green” marketing schemes, the details and science behind the products are easily overlooked.

What most people don’t realize is that Biodegradable plastic will NOT decompose in a landfill. Anything biodegradable requires oxygen to break down in order to decompose properly. Companies also do not specify a time requirement for how long it takes the biodegradable plastic to decompose other than ‘a reasonable amount’, which translates to: less than 1000 years.

photo credit: https://www.winnipegfreepress.com

Say you bought a Blue Majik smoothie at Acorn cafe. You walk the streets getting stares because of the bright blue drink in your cup, but it’s so delicious, you don’t care. When you’re done, you throw it in the trash with confidence because you know that it is biodegradable plastic.

Now, imagine a landfill.

Mountains and mountains of plastic garbage bags full of discarded, lost or unwanted possessions, all wasting away. That ugly mess will be there for thousands and thousands of years.

Needless to say, a biodegradable cup squished between heavy plastic garbage bags will have little to no oxygen. In the end, it’s basically as bad as throwing regular plastic into the trash. (So if you’re not already composting, please feel free to bring it back to our location & toss in our compost collector).

Biodegradable material will degrade when composted properly in the bins we provide at the cafe, but when thrown in a landfill, there is hardly any benefit to using them at all.

Compost is a little bit different. Compostable products will break down into carbon dioxide, water and other small pieces within about 90 days. It is a completely organic process, and will not leave behind a toxic residue.

But throwing a compostable cup into the trash is not any better than a biodegradable one. Suffocated by tons and tons of plastic, compostable foods like banana peels or compostable cups, will not decompose into the rich, fertilizing soil that is the result of professional or backyard composting.

Bottom line, anything thrown into the trash – anything – is polluting the environment.

photo credit: http://greenactioncentre.ca/reduce-your-waste/introducing-compost-winnipeg/

This is why composting is so important. We create organic waste that can be transformed into nourishing, completely non-toxic soil that can be used to grow even more organic products! Composting cuts down on the greenhouse gases that are emitted constantly by landfills, allow the volume of waste to be reduced by a HUGE amount.

Even if you don’t have a compost at home, pay attention to what you’re throwing out.

You may be astonished at how much of it could actually just be composted instead!

Our friends over at Compost Winnipeg have a list of items that can/cannot be composted that you can check out here: https://www.compostwinnipeg.ca/faqs

If you’re interested in learning more about composting in your own home or perhaps signing up on the neighbourhood compost pick up, click here: https://www.compostwinnipeg.ca/sign-up

Series written by Chantal Delaquis

You Might Also Like