There are so many terms that are bandied about nowadays when it comes to eco-friendly products that we risk all of these terms becoming meaningless if we are not a little more careful with how we use them. If you look at various product labels, many manufacturers are attempting to make products look green when they have no green attributes at all or at least very questionable ones.
There are a few key terms that get the most airplay, and only fewer still that have any real meaning. Let us confine this article to those terms that relate to household items and more specifically paper, plastic and molded fiber products. Most people know that many household waste items are recyclable. It has been drilled into us by our local waste companies and local governments which plastic items can be thrown into the recycling cans in various public locations and our curbside trash pickup. It is fairly common knowledge that those items will be recycled, in essence, repurposed, into another product. The concept of recycling is fairly well understood by most.
One term that that is becoming less common and is even restricted by several state governments and regulatory agencies is the term biodegradable. Biodegradability refers to something that will break down into carbon and water, relatively harmless components. That is rarely what actually happens in today's landfills. Landfills do not provide the sunlight and oxygen required for the breakdown of the item, and may actually cause more harm. Those same conditions that restrict the breakdown of the material also contribute to the release of methane gas in the landfill, which is a major contributor to global warming. It is believed that landfills are the third largest source of man-made methane. The first two being fossil fuel production and the farming of livestock.
One of the key terms to look for on the product package is the term compostable. Whether that refers to the package or the contents, the term compostable has a very clear and well-defined meaning. The Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) provides consumers with a very good level of assurance that the items that bear its approval (BPI Certified) adhere to a strict standard of compostability. ASTM D6868 is a very official sounding designation that indicates that the product or package will compost in a commercial composting facility in as little as 60 days. When something is compostable, it will break down into humus/organic matter often referred to as biomass and water. A simple, natural process that has been going on since the first plant life sprouted on the Earth. When the first leaves fell off of a tree and landed on the forest floor, organisms digested the material, broke it down and converted it to biomass so that it could replenish the dirt on the ground, and help the soil produce more growth. That process is slow and gradual. We have the ability in commercial compost facilities to accelerate that process and convert waste to biomass much more quickly.
EnviroTakeout's selection of compostable products are BPI certified and have ASTM D6868 designation. They are a wonderful alternative to plastic products and durable enough to suit any establishment.