Frequently asked questions: End-of-life & disposal

End-of-life & disposal

Composting

What is composting?

Composting is the process of turning organic waste, such as food scraps and compostable packaging, into nutrient rich compost that can be applied to land. Composting reproduces the natural process of organic material decay by providing the ideal conditions for microorganisms to break down the mater. The end-product of this process is nutrient-rich soil that can help crops, garden plants and trees to grow.

What are the different types of composting?

Home composting and industrial composting

There are two broad categories of composting, home composting and industrial composting. Home composting involves piling organic waste and aerating it over several weeks. An industrial compost facility optimises the composting process by controlling oxygen content and temperature in a commercial facility to ensure rapid biodegradation of organic material to produce a high quality, toxic-free compost. Home composts also produces rich compost at the end of the process but may not maintain the right temperature and oxygen conditions for composting PLA products.

Types of industrial composting:

  • Windrow
    • Windrow composting is a simple composting process which involves piling organic material in heaps called windrows and aerated through passive or active ventilation, or regular turning.
  • In-vessel composting
    • In-vessel composting methods confine organic materials in a building, container, or vessel in which air flow and temperature can be controlled.
  • Anaerobic digestion
    • Anaerobic digestion is a sequence of processes by which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen in a “digester”. The process is used for industrial or domestic purposes to manage waste or to produce fuels and fertilisers.

What is the benefit of composting?

Composting is a circular economy solution that allows businesses to reduce their environmental impact by diverting organic waste from landfills instead of having it turned into nutrient-rich compost. Composting is a local organics solution that is processed in your region without relying on exports and has a huge positive impact on the environment.

Compost:

  • Helps fight climate change by sequestering carbon into the soil and avoiding methane emissions from landfill
  • Is a natural fertiliser that allows farmers to grow more food locally
  • Is an amazing soil conditioner that helps retain moisture and fight droughts

What's the difference between the term 'biodegradable' and 'compostable'?

The terms 'biodegradable' and 'compostable' are not equivalent or interchangeable. 'Biodegradable' simply means something will be broken down by microbes over time, which is true for most materials on the planet. Since this term applies to almost everything, it is a meaningless claim that has been abused through greenwashing.

In contrast, 'compostable' means something will break down in a defined amount of time and in set conditions (humidity levels, temperature, etc), such as the ones encountered in home compost bins or in composting facilities.

Like any other environmental claim though, it needs to be substantiated. That is why our compostable products are certified to the Australian Home Compostability AS5810 standards or/and Australian Industrial Compostability AS4736 standards. These testing programs also ensure that the packaging does not hinder compost quality and that the compost produced can safely be applied to land.

More information:

What is organic waste?

Organic waste is waste of biological origins such as paper, cardboard, bioplastic, food, green and garden waste, animal waste and biosolids and sludges. In Australia, we send 7 million tonnes of organic waste to landfills where it decomposes to produce greenhouse gases including methane. The BioPak Compost Service helps businesses divert organic waste from landfills and have it recycled into nutrient-rich compost.

Can I compost BioPak products in my home compost?

All BioPak products that hold home compostability certification (AS5810) or products made from wood and processed fibrous organic materials (Wooden cutlery, unlined bioboard, paper bags, and napkins) can be disposed in your home compost.

How long does it take to breakdown BioPak's home compostable products?

BioPak's home compostable ranges conform to Australian home compost standards and are certified AS5810. This means they will decompose in standard home compost conditions within 180 days. However, the actual rate of biodegradation will depend on the temperature and humidity of the compost pile.

Can I put BioPak products on my worm farm?

Home compostable range

You can safely put BioPak's home compostable product range in your worm farm. It is recommended you shred the packaging before you place it in your worm farm for the best results.

Commercially compostable range

Some customers have successfully processed our compostable coffee cups in their worm farms – it takes a bit longer but the worms do eventually get through them. Clear PLA products, PLA cutlery and PLA lids should not be processed in a worm farm.

Can I put BioPak products in my residential FOGO bin?

The BioPak home compostable ranges are usually fine to be placed in the FOGO bins, however, each local council has its own requirements so you need to contact your council directly for confirmation.

BioPak PLA products are accepted in residential FOGO in Hobart, South Australia and some parts of Western Australia.

How long does it take for a BioPak item to breakdown in a commercial compost facility?

BioPak’s certified compostable range will decompose in an industrial compost facility within 12 weeks.

Why are BioPak products not labeled as compostable?

We are working on getting the seedling logo on all our certified compostable products and hope to see this achieved in the near future.

Recycling

What BioPak products are recyclable?

Food packaging must be clean from food and beverage residue to be eligible for recycling. If contaminated products end up in the recycling they can send a whole truckload to a landfill!

The products below are generally accepted in co-mingled recycling when clean, but it's best to check with your local council to confirm:

  • Paper board trays (not coated with PLA)
  • Paper board boxes (not coated with PLA)
  • Sugarcane plates
  • Sugarcane bowls
  • Sugarcane trays
  • Sugarcane containers
  • Sugarcane clamshells
  • PS coffee cup lids (white only)
  • PET transparent lids

What is the problem with recycling?

When food packaging is contaminated with food and beverage residue, it becomes extremely difficult to recycle through the regular recycling streams and usually ends up in a landfill. Moreover, recent bans on plastic exports, and a lack of local recycling infrastructure, has left the future of Australian recycling highly uncertain.

Composting is an organics recycling solution that processes compostable food packaging and organic waste in one stream. It is processed locally with no overseas exporting and returns nutrients to Australian soil. Composting is the ideal waste solution for the food and beverage industry.

How do I dispose of the sleeve that my order comes in?

The plastic sleeves are polyethylene, a type of soft plastic eligible for recycling at Redcycle drop off points.

Landfill

What happens to BioPak products in landfill?

Even in instances where our products are sent to landfill instead of industrial composting, they are still more eco-friendly than packaging made from less sustainable sources. BioPak's compostable products are made from rapidly renewable materials and all products are certified carbon neutral. Carbon neutral means that the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production, transport and disposal of our products have been independently calculated and offset by investing in infrastructure and activities that offset carbon emissions.

Our PLA range is inert in landfill so will not decompose to produce methane. The bagasse range will decompose and produce 'landfill gases' including methane, however these emissions have been offset and are certified carbon neutral.

The best end of life option for BioPak's bioplastic products is commercial composting. However, most bioplastics would remain inert in landfills.

If I can’t compost my BioPak products, are they still better for the environment than conventional packaging?

Yes! All BioPak products are made from rapidly renewable plant materials, not oil, and are certified carbon neutral. Carbon neutral means that the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production, transport and disposal of our products have been calculated and offset by investing in infrastructure and activities that offset carbon emissions.

What is the problem with organic waste in landfill?

When food decomposes in landfills it releases methane which is a greenhouse gas 26-38 times more potent than carbon dioxide and a significant contributor to the climate crisis. We support composting as a circular economy solution for food scraps and compostable packaging, as it avoids methane emissions from landfills and converts this waste into compost which can then be applied to land and sequester even more carbon from the atmosphere back into the soil.

For more information, read the "EPA Methane Fact Sheet".

Disposal

I have a single item of BioPak’s packaging I purchased at a cafe. Where can I get it commercially composted?

Home composting

Much of the BioPak range is certified home compostable to the Australian AS5810 compost standard. This means it will break down in standard home compost conditions in 12 weeks. Home compostable ranges include BioBags, BioBoard, BioCane, BioCutlery and BioNapkins.

Residential FOGO bin

BioPak's long-term goal is to have council Food Organics and Garden Organics, or 'FOGO' bins, that accept compostable packaging available for residents nationally and beyond. Local councils in Hobart and Adelaide are leading the way and already offering FOGO bins that accept compostable packaging to all residents. We are actively working with government and industry to push for this to happen. You can help by starting up a local petiton for FOGO bins that accept compostable packaging in your area.

General waste bin

You may have to put the compostable packaging in your general waste bin for now – but it is still a significantly better option than conventional plastics made from oil. Our products are made from rapidly renewable plant materials and are certified carbon neutral. This means that the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production, transport and disposal of our products have been independently assessed and offset by investing in infrastructure and activities that offset carbon emissions.

I have a small amount of BioPak’s compostable packaging from a once-off occasion. Where can I get it composted?

Home composting

Much of the BioPak range is certified home compostable to the Australian AS5810 compost standard. This means it will break down in standard home compost conditions in 12 weeks. Home compostable ranges include BioBags, BioBoard, BioCane, BioCutlery and BioNapkins.

Residential FOGO bin

BioPak's long-term goal is to have council Food Organics and Garden Organics, or 'FOGO' bins, that accept compostable packaging available for residents nationally and beyond. Local councils in Hobart and Adelaide are leading the way and already offering FOGO bins that accept compostable packaging to all residents. We are actively working with government and industry to push for this to happen. You can help by starting up a local petition for FOGO bins that accept compostable packaging in your area.

General waste bin

You may have to put the compostable packaging in your general waste bin for now – but it is still a significantly better option than conventional plastics made from oil. Our products are made from rapidly renewable plant materials and are certified carbon neutral. This means that the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production, transport and disposal of our products have been independently assessed and offset by investing in infrastructure and activities that offset carbon emissions.

I have a large amount of BioPak’s compostable packaging from a once-off occasion. Where can I get it composted?

Once-off event collection

You can use our platform Compost Connect to organise a one off collection with one of our compost partner.

Home composting

Much of the BioPak range is certified home compostable to the Australian AS5810 compost standard. This means it will break down in standard home compost conditions in 12 weeks. Home compostable ranges include BioBags, BioBoard, BioCane, BioCutlery and BioNapkins.

Residential FOGO bin

BioPak's long-term goal is to have council Food Organics and Garden Organics, or 'FOGO' bins, that accept compostable packaging available for residents nationally and beyond. Local councils in Hobart and Adelaide are leading the way and already offering FOGO bins that accept compostable packaging to all residents. We are actively working with government and industry to push for this to happen. You can help by starting up a local petiton for FOGO bins that accept compostable packaging in your area.

General waste bin

You may have to put the compostable packaging in your general waste bin for now – but it is still a significantly better option than conventional plastics made from oil. Our products are made from rapidly renewable plant materials and are certified carbon neutral. This means that the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production, transport and disposal of our products have been independently assessed and offset by investing in infrastructure and activities that offset carbon emissions.