Get familiar with the terms being used by the plastics industry and the green movement.
Compostable products completely break down within four months and provide valuable nutrients to the soil.
Compostable means a product can be broken down at the same rate as other organic matter by natural organisms like bacteria. The products should only leave behind the same types of matter that naturally exist in the environment.
Biodegradable products can leave metal or chemical residue when they break down, which could take years!
Biodegradable means a product can be broken down by natural organisms, but that does not mean they will be broken down into organic matter. There is also no time limit on how long it could take and their impact can be detected.
Recyclable products can be sorted and collected to be used in the manufacturing of another product.
Recyclable means a product can be introduced into the life cycle of a new product instead of being sent to a landfill as long as the purity of the material is maintained, meaning sorting of materials is crucial.
Plastic is a petrochemical, like gasoline, which means it is a byproduct of the petroleum industry, one of the world’s largest industries.
Plastic is useful for both its malleability and sterility, but its durability poses a problem once it is discarded as nothing in the natural world is capable of breaking it down, which means it always leaves behind micro plastics.
Bioplastics like PLA are made by fermenting corn and other raw agricultural products then using the resulting lactic acid to make a polymer than can be molded like plastic.
The end product can be difficult to distinguish from petroleum based plastics, but it can completely breakdown without a trace, unlike petroleum based plastics.
Bagasse is the fibrous waste product from the processing of sugarcane. After the fiber pulp is pressed and treated it can be molded to produce compostable containers and boards.
Bagasse is compostable so it makes for a great material to substitute for plastic. It is particularly useful because it is the waste product of a preexisting industry.
Ingredient and Material Guide
A comprehensive list of ingredients and materials commonly included in products across various industries courtesy of Good Market.