There are 200 million tons of plastic in use today, volumes of which will eventually end up in the waste streams harming sea life, devouring landfill space, and gumming up recyclers' equipment. While the push to properly recycle plastics is high, so is the trend to re-engineer the products so they are compostable, and overall safer for the environment — especially as municipalities reach for zero waste goals.
"Compostable products help to make sorting easier for consumers, and are designed to break down in professionally managed composting facilities," said Rhodes Yepsen, executive director of the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI). And compostable plastics, made from plants rather than oil, have the power to reduce fossil fuel dependence, foster sustainability, and cut food waste in landfills.
But there's confusion about which products are truly compostable, and even doubt about what "compostable" means. Compostable plastics, also known as bioplastics, present other challenges too.