Eco friendly catering & packaging supplies, Eco-lifestyle products & Natural Home-wares

What does 'compostable' mean?


We seem to have found ourselves in a society that has so many terms flying around but no one really understands what they mean.

So what does compostable mean?

If I said that  anything compostable can go in my compost bin at home, it could be argued that I was wrong.

Obviously, there are compostable items that can go straight into your compost or worm bin at home; these are mainly things that are grown and have not been processed. Meat is a big no no - unless you want your bin full of rats, bugs and maggots which are not a fun addition to the composting equation. They can also cause serious issues with the health of your worms.

In industry we call a lot of items 'compostable' - but when looking at them we think "how on earth is a this going to break down"? Well this is where it gets a little tricky.

So what does compostable mean at an industry level?

One of the key differences of an industrial composting facility and a home compost is the constant turning of the compost materials so that there is continuous aeration which promotes oxidisation of the materials within the compost. Also, in an industrial composting facility, the moisture and temperatures are monitored throughout the process. The temperature is always kept above 55 degrees Celsius and can be as high as 70 degrees Celsius. By having the temperature at this level, it allows certain materials to break down better and faster, and it will kill potentially harmful bacteria from certain foods, such as meat, dairy and cooked foods that are not recommended for home compost situations.

The future of commercial composting and compostable products

Our ideal future sees us with myriads of commercial composting facilities that take all our certified 'compostable' products - such as compostable catering wares - and turn them back into dirt. This is starting to happen, and several of our larger clients have arrangements with commercial composters to compost their compostable catering ware and food scraps. As with most things, the process is gradual. However we believe that the more people purchase compostable catering ware and other items, and demand facilities to compost them properly, the more this ideal will turn into reality.

By Lucinda Flynn of Going Green Solutions

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