The Lowdown on Biodegradables & Compostables Buying biodegradable or compostable packaging/products is not always the greener option, if you are placing them in the bin after use then they will still end up in a landfill or as energy from waste. Biodegradable and compostable items need specific conditions to break down, if left in the environment they could also cause damage to the environment and wildlife, i.e. some ‘biodegradable’ options still contain a small number of plastics, leaving micro plastics when they start to break down, they can also get stuck around an animal neck etc. Compostable packaging cannot always be composted in your home compost bin; the bin simply cannot get hot enough so the item is needed to be sent to an industrial composter. Look at logos on packaging, if none are displayed ask the manufacturer via social media/email how you should responsibly dispose of it. Logos explained below… Industrially Composted Products bearing this seedling logo are industrially compostable. Wiltshire doesn’t currently have a collection service to dispose of these products, you can not place these in your Garden Waste bins. If outside of Wiltshire then check with your local Authority if these can be collected with garden waste collections. Never place compostable plastic into the recycling with other plastics; as it is designed to break down it cannot be recycled and contaminates recyclable plastics. Compostable means that it can biodegrade in under twelve weeks in industrial composting! Home composting If you see this logo the product is suitable to be home composted. It may take at least twelve months to compost down. The term Biodegradable is meaningless without saying the timescale or conditions in which something can biodegrade. Wood is biodegradable, but a log cabin can stand for generations. The packaging industry is a minefield, even ‘Eco-Packaging’ is not straight forward but Compostable packaging could be the future for a large majority of packaging, and hopefully, by people investing in compostable packaging, it will provide the need for additional industrial composters. Buying biodegradable? Be aware… If packaging is claiming to be biodegradable it doesn't mean that it is 100% biodegradable, in the EU only 90% has to be biodegradable; meaning only 90% of the material needs to biodegrade within 12 weeks. Some of these products also still contain low levels of heavy metals and chemicals so aren’t always that Eco-friendly, but so does traditional plastic! Biodegradable packaging should never be disposed of in your garden waste or plastic recycling bin, check if there are any biodegradable plastic collection points near you, but chances are it still ends up in your rubbish bin. So what is the solution? Although biodegradable and compostables are a step in the right direction and will continue to improve through research and innovation, reduction is always the answer. Reduce, reduce, reduce, if you cant always reduce then reuse, rot and recycle. Choose home composting packaging first then choose industrial composting and biodegradable but be cautious of the price, if it is going to cost you double the price to purchase the more ‘Eco-friendly’ product and it will still end up in the bin then make a choice based on what your wallet will allow. Sign up to Waste Free Feb to challenge yourself to a Waste Free Lifestyle.