As consumers, some of like to support “green” or eco-friendly products and services, thinking we are doing our small part to conserve resources or fight against climate change. But one small effort, using “compostable” disposable products may make us feel good, but are we actually doing good?
Sadly the answer is NO.
That is because these products billed as compostable really won’t break down in the backyard compost pile, if you were to bring them home and try that. If you toss them at the restaurant or coffee shop, they will most likely go straight to the landfill. According to the Blakely, most waste collection services and processing plants do not have a system to separate and process them, turning them into usable compost. So we are probably paying a few cents extra for the cost of the compostable materials, and while we feel we are doing our part to make the planet a better place, odds are it is a useless effort, at least for the time being.
We are reprinting this article about misleading facts behind “compostable” products, by Rhys Blakely, as a courtesy to our readers. Please read the full article at The UK Sunday Times.
The compostable products that could take years to break down
Rhys Blakely, Science Correspondent
June 7 2019, 12:01am, The Times
Shoppers are being misled by disposable cutlery, packaging and nappies that are labelled as “compostable” but will not break down for years, scientists have warned.
Some high-street chains have been offering a range of compostable alternatives as consumers turn away from single-use plastics.
However, most of these products are only guaranteed to decompose in industrial composting plants in conditions that cannot be reproduced in a garden compost heap. Most local authorities do not have systems for collecting and dealing with them.
This means that the majority are destined for landfill sites, where they may not decompose for years, said Professor Mark Miodownik, a materials scientist at University College London. “The public really need to know that when something says it’s compostable, it is not going to disappear as soon as you drop it and it may not actually be good for the environment,” he told the Cheltenham Science Festival.
“My concern is that these products may lead to an increase in littering as people leave them in grass or hedges, thinking they will simply biodegrade.