What is a "compostable" product?
A “compostable” product is any solid material that can be placed into a composition of decaying biodegradable materials and in a safe and timely manner turns into a nutrient-rich material called humus.
What is the difference between "industrial” or “commercial” compostable and “home” compostable?
The difference involves time, temperature, and turning. It also involves the type of vessel used in composting. The composting standard is set by a government-mandated test: ASTM6400 for materials and ASTM6868 for films and coatings. Industrial composting can be accomplished more rapidly than ordinary home composting.
So is industrial/commercial composting better?
It is more effective. In an industrial composting facility there is regular turning of the organic material. Moisture and temperatures are monitored during the composting process, achieving over 55 degrees Celsius for a consistent period of time. This allows certain materials to break down better and faster. Industrial composting kills potentially harmful bacteria from foods such as meat, dairy, and cooked foods that are not recommended for home compost situations. (from Earthcycle)
How long does it take SUS containers to compost completely?
Industrial compost tests on the containers conducted by SUS indicate that it can completely degrade within about 45 days under proper industrial conditions, particularly temperature and turning.
But home composting is still okay?
ANY compostable product, including grass clippings, will not go away as quickly at home as in industrial composting situations, but it is still compostable. Home composting is an ideal way to “recycle” organic items into useful carbon-rich humus that can be used as fertilizer. Regular turning of the organic material accelerates the compost process.
What is “biodegradable?”
Biodegradable products break down through the action of naturally occurring microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi, etc., over a period of time. Biodegradable products are usually made from plant or animal sources. According to the US Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Green Guides, a “degradable” item must completely break down and return to nature (i.e., decompose into elements found in nature) within a reasonably short period of time after customary disposal.
What is the difference between “compostable” and “biodegradable?”
“Compostable” means something specific and its definition is tightly controlled by international standards. “Biodegradable” has a somewhat looser definition. For marketing purposes to be considered degradable by the FTC, items entering the solid waste stream must completely decompose within one year after customary disposal.
What are compostable “bio-plastics” made of?
Compostable bio-plastics are, by definition, derived from renewable biomass materials like starch (e.g. corn, potato, tapioca etc), cellulose, soy protein, lactic acid, etc. Unfortunately, the term “bio-plastics” is widely misused by companies whose products are not 100% derived from organic material.
Are SUS bottles, caps, and labels compostable?
Yes. The resins in SUS containers exceed the ASTM6400 standards for “compostable” mentioned above, as well as the European standard. In addition SUS containers can compost at home although the process is much slower than with industrial composting. The decomposition process is aided by shredding the material into smaller pieces. Moist conditions and proper aeration by regularly turning the mixture are also vital.
How can I identify whether a particular product is compostable?
The simplest way to identify whether a product is truly compostable product is to look it up at the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI), the leading authority on compostable products. http://www.bpiworld.org/ A Vincotte “OK Compost” certification http://www.okcompost.be/en/certified-products is widely recognized as an authoritative seal of approval.
What are SUS bottles made of?
Our bottles are made from PLA, a non-GMO sugarcane-based material.
What is PLA?
PLA stands for polylactic acid and is the chemical name of a bio-plastic made from sugarcane. It has the look and feel of petroleum-based plastic.
How long will the PLA take to decompose or compost?
To be certified compostable by ASTM, material is required to degrade within 84 days in a commercial composting facility.. In recent compost testing SUS containers have broken down even more quickly.
Why must SUS containers be segregated from ordinary recycling items such as PET plastic bottles?
Because it is of different origin than regular plastic, plant-based material must be kept separate from petroleum-based plastics when recycled, lest it taint the waste-recycling stream. Being plant-based,SUS containers need to go to a composting facility or be placed with food scraps in a “Bottle Model Digester”. They must not be sent to a recycling facility.
What if I throw SUS containers into the trash?
SUS products are intended to return to the soil through composting. If thrown into the trash they will likely end up in a landfill. Landfills are sealed which means little biodegradation occurs below the surface. No matter the material, even if compostable, what is thrown away and delivered to a landfill may not degrade for a very long time.
Will products made from PLA degrade in landfills?
The low oxygen concentration and low temperatures in the unnatural environment of landfills retard molecular weight loss, preventing the biopolymers from becoming degradable.  Eventually, bio-plastics such as PLA will degrade, but the process will likely be slow, although far superior to petroleum-based plastics that never go away.
Why can’t compostable water bottles be offered in retail settings so more people could buy them?
It is all a matter of a safer “after-life” for the empty container. Plant-based, biodegradable containers should not be placed within the normal “plastics” re-cycle stream where it can become a contaminant to the re-cycle process. SUS containers are best captured at the point of use. Thus, “closed-loop” venues where food products are served and consumed on-site and the waste stream including food-scraps, utensils, and containers, are recovered, provide the best locations forSUS products.
Don’t some communities have a separate waste pick-up system for compostables?
Some countries are well advanced in offering municipal pick-up of compostables, just like normal trash collection. Municipal pick-up of compostables is still rare in the United States. In recent years, however, the number of pick-up services operated by private companies has skyrocketed. This allows options for people who want to compost but lack space to support home composting.
How would SUS “empties” be collected at a closed loop venue?
Empties can be collected in two basic ways. Consumers could place empty containers in clearly marked “BIG BOTTTLES offered by SUS at the exit points of each venue. Empty containers can also be mixed directly among ordinary food scraps. In both cases, the containers can then be sent to an industrial compost facility with the other food waste or processed on-site by a “Bottle Model Digester”. The digester grinds up the bottles and the grindings are added with the waste food on site. All of the material converts to water and goes down the drain. In certain situations where water can be used as irrigation and/or fertilizer, the effluent is used in that manner.
Can SUS containers be safely incinerated?
Yes. The resins in SUS containers are suitable for incineration. Unlike PET containers, when incinerated SUS containers do not emit fumes any more toxic than from the incineration of plants..
What if SUS containers end up in the environment, for example, along a roadside?
Since there is no organic companion for the bottles in an open environment, they may remain for as much as several years. Heat and other factors will eventually break down the container, but it will not be swift. Empty bottles need to be mixed with organisms that will “eat them up”.
What if SUS containers end up in a stream, lake, or the ocean?
While this is not a good ending for SUS containers, the hope is that the bottles will, (unlike hydrocarbon-based products), disintegrate into smaller, softer pieces. If sea creatures consume small pieces of SUS containers, most creatures’ digestive systems will absorb the pieces and swim away with a “high-fiber” diet. That is generally not a death sentence compared to petroleum-based plastics.
Why do so few companies offer plant-based packaging?
Until recently, the recycling industry along with the petrochemical industry which produces plastics, have opposed the introduction of such packaging. Recyclers have a legitimate concern that plant-based materials not be mixed with petroleum-based recyclables. Thus, SUS insists that consumers of its products have the capability and intention to keep its product completely out of normal recycling streams.
What is the Resin Identification Code (a design of arrows in a triangular shape containing a number in the center and an abbreviation identifying the component plastic resin) for PLA and other SUS materials?
Currently, the SPI resin identification code 7 ("others") is applicable for all SUS components, including bottles, caps, and labels.
Is composting recycling?
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers composting a form of recycling because it turns resources into a usable product.