Full Rundown of Bio Bag Details
1. What's it made from?
It is made from regular plastic, produced from petroleum byproducts (obviously not ideal!), but includes an additive that helps micro-organisms to break it down completely into humus, leaving no harmful residues behind. We're no soil scientists, so we checked out that these claims have been tested to ASTM 5511 criteria, the "standard test method for determining anaerobic biodegradation of plastic materials under anaerobic high-solids conditions." (ASTM is the American Society for Testing and Materials.) EPA tests have also shown that no dangerous chemicals or toxins are left in the soil once the bags are dirt.
2. What about ASTM 6400, the standard for 'compostability'?
Our bags do not meet the ASTM 6400 standard for compostability, as they do not degrade within 180 days or less. (They will compost, only over a longer period than 180 days.) Our bags take approximately 9 months to break down under the best of conditions. So while our bags are biodegradable in composting systems, both industrial and domestic according to ASTM 5338.98 (the standard method for determining aerobic biodegradation of plastic materials under controlled composting conditions), we don't at this point recommend adding them to commercial composting facilities. To the best of our knowledge, no appropriate coffee packaging is available that would pass ASTM 6400 at this time - but please contact us if you know of something we don't!
3. How's your biodegradable plastic different from any other so-called "biodegradable stuff"?
There are other biodegradable plastics out there, but all have their own drawbacks. Corn plastics, like PLA for example, have gotten a lot of attention (we use them for some of our to-go mugs etc), but many folks don't realize that they need commercial composting facilities to biodegrade - if they are tossed in a landfill or even the home compost heap, they may just as well be your regular plain-old plastic. Without oxygen and high-heat, both of which are in short supply in most landfills we've spent time in, PLA plastics remain inert. And corn requires considerable energy inputs in its cultivation - in fact, some estimates suggest that corn plastics use more petroleum than their petroleum-based counterparts.
Other degradable plastics that have been marketed in the past have really only broken down into smaller and smaller bits of plastic - great if you want to keep roadsides clean, less so if you're a turtle who is [quite literally] sick of eating plastic.
Ultimately, we'd like to be looking beyond these to a truly cradle-to-cradle system, where nothing is thrown away. But in the meantime we're pretty pleased that this is a big step in the right direction. Remember though: Our larger bags are still reusable, and it always makes so much more sense to use something again than it does to throw it away. Why not pack the kiddies' sandwiches in your used coffee bags before you give 'em to the worms? (Give the bags to the worms that is, not the sandwiches...)
4. Where'd you get it?
We worked closely with NC-based plastics company to integrate their technology into packaging that worked for us and to bring it to market.
OUR ENERGY USE
( Electricity I The Veggie Bus I Biodiesel I The Larry Biobag I Rainwater )
We try to make choices with consequences that are good for our local community, the big human community, our animal friends, and the planet at large. It turns out that our responsible choices end up leading us to new friendships, fun experiences and a good time in general. Pun intended, it’s good energy to have fun with responsibility.