how to dispose of compostable plastic
Plastic waste has become a significant environmental concern in recent years. The vast majority of plastics used today are non-biodegradable and can take hundreds of years to decompose naturally. To combat this issue, compostable plastics have emerged as an alternative. Compostable plastics are designed to break down in composting facilities, offering a more sustainable option. However, proper disposal is key to ensure that compostable plastics fulfill their purpose. In this article, we will discuss how to dispose of compostable plastic in an environmentally responsible manner.
1. Understand the difference between compostable and biodegradable plastics:
Before we dive into disposal methods, it's crucial to understand the difference between compostable and biodegradable plastics. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they don't carry the same meaning. Compostable plastics are designed to break down into organic matter in composting facilities, while biodegradable plastics can decompose under specific conditions but might not necessarily turn into organic matter. It's important to use plastics certified as compostable as they are guaranteed to meet established standards.
2. Check for compostable certifications:
Before purchasing any compostable plastic products, look for certifications such as the "Seedling" logo or the "BPI-certified compostable" mark. These certifications ensure that the product has met specific industry standards and will break down efficiently in composting facilities. Without proper certification, the plastics may not compost as expected.
3. Separate compostable plastics from other waste:
To properly dispose of compostable plastic, it must be separated from regular waste. Create a separate bin or container specifically for compostable plastics and clearly label it. By keeping compostable plastics separate, it becomes easier to manage the waste and ensure it is directed to the appropriate disposal facility.
4. Research composting facilities in your area:
Not all composting facilities accept compostable plastics, so it's crucial to research and locate facilities near you that can process these materials. Check with your local waste management department or search online directories to identify composting facilities that accept compostable plastics. Contact the facility to confirm their acceptance policies and drop-off options.
5. Home composting:
In some cases, it may be possible to compost certain compostable plastics at home. However, this option is dependent on the specific plastic and the conditions of your composting setup. Some compostable plastics require industrial composting facilities to break down properly. If you have a backyard compost system, check with the manufacturer of your compostable plastics to determine if they are suitable for home composting. If they are, ensure they are cut into smaller pieces before adding them to the compost pile to accelerate decomposition.
6. Deposit compostable plastics at appropriate facilities:
Once you have identified composting facilities that accept compostable plastics, prepare the waste for drop-off. If the facility provides specific guidelines, follow them carefully. Remove any non-compostable components, such as labels or additional packaging, and ensure the compostable plastic is clean and free from any contaminants. Deliver the compostable plastic waste to the chosen facility and deposit it in the designated area.
7. Industrial composting process:
Industrial composting facilities use a controlled process to break down organic materials efficiently, including compostable plastics. These facilities maintain specific temperature, moisture, and oxygen levels to accelerate composting. Once delivered, the compostable plastics are mixed with other organic waste and undergo a carefully managed composting process. The resulting compost can then be used in agriculture or landscaping.
8. Awareness and education:
Promote awareness about compostable plastics within your community by sharing information on their benefits, proper disposal methods, and available composting facilities. Educate others on the importance of segregating compostable plastics from regular waste and emphasize the positive environmental impact it can make in preventing plastic pollution.
In conclusion, disposing of compostable plastic properly ensures its beneficial impact on the environment. Remember to understand the difference between compostable and biodegradable plastics, look for proper certifications, separate compostable plastics from regular waste, research composting facilities, consider home composting if appropriate, deposit waste at designated facilities, and spread awareness within your community. By following these steps, we can all contribute to minimizing plastic waste and promoting a healthier planet.