Composting is a method of turning organic materials, such as garden waste, food scraps, or other biodegradable materials, into nutrient-rich compost that can be used as fertilizer for plants. An important term associated with composting is "compostable". But what exactly does this term mean?
What does "compostable" mean?
A material is said to be "compostable" if it is biodegradable and can be processed into useful compost in a compost heap or industrial compost facility. This means it can be converted into carbon, nitrogen, and other nutrients that plants can use.
Which materials are compostable?
There are many materials that are compostable. This includes:
- fruit and vegetable waste
- Garden debris such as leaves, grass or twigs
- paper and cardboard
- wood chips and sawdust
- straw and hay
- Compostable packaging made from biodegradable materials such as corn starch or sugar cane
Our palm leaf products are also compostable, such as the 3-part plates.
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Requirements for successful composting
In order for materials to be successfully composted, certain requirements must be met. This includes:
The right compost heap: In order to compost the materials, you need a suitable compost heap or a composting facility. The compost heap should be large enough to allow sufficient heat to develop to break down the materials.
The Right Mixture: A mixture of carbon and nitrogen materials is important for the compost pile to work effectively. Carbon materials like paper or cardboard help bring air into the compost pile, while nitrogenous materials like fruit and vegetable waste provide the nutrients.
Moisture: The compost pile should be kept moist to allow the materials to decompose. However, too much humidity can lead to odor problems.
Aeration: In order to oxygenate the compost pile and encourage the decomposition of the materials, it needs to be turned over regularly.
Why is composting important for the environment?
Composting is an important way to reduce waste and put nutrients back into the soil. Using compost as fertilizer allows plants to grow healthily and improves the balance in the ecosystem. In addition, composting helps to reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and thus reduces the environmental impact.
Biodegradable vs Compostable: The Difference
The terms "biodegradable" and "compostable" are often used interchangeably, but there is an important difference between the two. Biodegradable materials are broken down by biological processes such as bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms in the environment. However, this degradation can take place under various conditions, such as in a sea or in a landfill. Some materials can even take centuries to fully degrade.
Compostable materials, on the other hand, can degrade over a period of time in a controlled environment under certain conditions. They must be broken down in a dedicated composting facility or on a compost heap under specific temperature and humidity conditions and with proper ventilation. Unlike biodegradable materials, compostable materials can be converted into valuable nutrients for plants in a matter of weeks or months.
A wide variety of materials can be composted, including garden waste such as leaves, grass, twigs and vegetable scraps, and kitchen waste such as fruit and vegetable scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds and tea bags. Paper and cardboard can also be composted as long as they are not coated with plastic or treated with toxic chemicals.
In addition to garden waste, there is also a large amount of packaging material that is compostable. More and more companies are using biodegradable and compostable packaging as an alternative to plastic packaging to protect the environment. Compostable packaging consists of renewable raw materials such as corn starch, potato starch or wood fibers and is completely biodegradable. They can be disposed of on the compost heap like garden waste and thus contribute to the circular economy.
However, caution is also required here: Not all packaging declared as "compostable" is actually compostable. Some packaging can only be degraded under certain conditions, such as in industrial composting facilities.
Composting is a simple and effective way to biodegrade waste, helping to protect the environment. Compostable materials such as garden waste and packaging made from renewable raw materials are a sustainable alternative to conventional waste disposal methods and contribute to the conservation of resources and the circular economy.
The composting of waste is also easy to implement for the home garden and can be carried out with a compost heap or a composting plant. By choosing and handling compostable materials correctly, each individual can make a contribution to environmental protection and at the same time provide their own garden with valuable humus.