Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions about compostable, biodegradable and degradable

On this page you’ll find the most frequently asked questions about compostable materials and packaging. We’ve tried to answer them as clearly as possibly.

What is compostable packaging?

Compostable packaging is a packaging recently developed by the chemicals and plastics industries, as a valid alternative to lower the mountains of waste created by conventional plastics. Thanks to its physical and chemical structures, compostable packaging can be broken down by micro organisms, into CO2 + H2O + Biomass.

What is compostable packaging made of?

Compostable packaging is made from renewable resources such as starch (from corn or potatoes), cellulose (wood fibre from fast growing and replanted trees), sugar cane, bamboo or palm fibres and finally even from micro-organisms (bacteria).

What’s the working definition of renewable resources?

Raw materials, considered as renewable resources, are mainly obtained from agricultural production. They regenerate crops every year or far more quickly in comparison with fossil resources.

How long does it take for standard plastics to fully disintegrate?

Decades. Even for ‘environmentally friendly’ PE it takes 50 years.

What is understood by “(oxo-) degradable”?

Products that degrade through chemical oxidation which lower and lower molecular weights, then become brittle and fragment. The fragments are then ingested slowly by microorganisms, before the onset of degradation. They also mineralize at a far slower rate than is acceptable.

What is understood by “biodegradable”?

Biodegradation is the process by which organic substances are broken down by the enzymes produced by living organisms. Such products have the ability to break down, safely and relatively quickly by biological means into the raw materials of nature and disappear harmless into the environment.

What is understood by “Compostable”?

Compostable materials are a specific form of “biodegradable” material. To be classified as compostable, they must break down within a certain time period (typically within 3 months) and under intensified conditions promoted by the composting process (ie increased heat).

How long does compostbale packaging take to fully disintegrate?

Certified packaging totally vanishes within 6 to 10 weeks in a standard composting plant.

How do I tell the difference between compostable and standard packaging?

Biodegradable packaging carries a specific label identifying it as such and telling you how to dispose of it after use.

The seedling logo and the OK Compost logo are used for industrial composting, the OK Comost HOME logo for those products that can be composted on your domestic compost heap.

Kiemplant - OK Compost - home OK Compost

How can I be sure the biodegradable label is only used for biodegradable packaging?

The label is given to those products which have been tested by independent labs and proven to meet with all criteria such as described in the European standard EN 13432 for compostable materials

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