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.

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 high quality, toxic-free compost. Home composts produce the same quality compost at the end of the process but may not maintain the right temperature and oxygen conditions for composting our 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 landfill and 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 European Home Compostability NF T51-800 standards or/and European Industrial Compostability EN13432 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:

Can I compost BioPak products in my home compost?

BioBags, BioBoard, BioCane, wooden BioCutlery and BioNapkins are home compostable and will breakdown in standard home compost conditions.

Can I put BioPak products in 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.

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.

Recycling

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.

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 UK soil. Composting is the ideal waste solution for the food and beverage industry.

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, there is a little risk posed by the biodegradation of bioplastics in landfills and most bioplastics would remain inert.

More information:

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 landfill 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 European EN13432 compost standard. This means it will break down in standard home compost conditions in 12 weeks. Home compostable ranges include BioCane and BioCutlery.

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.

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 European EN13432 compost standard. This means it will break down in standard home compost conditions in 12 weeks. Home compostable ranges include BioCane and BioCutlery.

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.

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

We are able to offer a compostable collection service for one-off events, ensuring your event aligns with the circular economy. Please email sales@biopak.co.uk for more information.

Home composting

Much of the BioPak range is certified home compostable to the European EN13432 compost standard. This means it will break down in standard home compost conditions in 12 weeks. Home compostable ranges include BioCane and BioCutlery.

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.