This upcoming Earth Day – April 22, 2010 – marks the launch of the much-anticipated compostable Sun Chips bag. Maybe you’ve seen the video that dramatically documents its 14-week decomposition. But if grabbing a bag is included among your planned Earth Day activities, just remember it implies the necessity for a compost pile or Compost Bins on CompostMania. If you don’t already have one, it would seem the ideal day (with a little salty incentive) to get started.
As Planet Green’s Jessica Root reminds us, “One of the easy eco-traps to fall into is thinking that all labeled ‘compostable’ packing breaks down in the landfill—so long as you dispose of it. In reality, for a compostable product to actually biodegrade, it requires the conditions put forth in an actual compost: heat, moisture, air and a healthy mix of fruit and veggie scraps, dried up leaves, cardboard shreddings, grass clippings, etc.”
In other words, the Sun Chips bag is 100 percent compostable, but only in theory unless you, the consumer, dispose of it as intended – in an aerobic composting bin or pile that, unlike the landfill, provides an adequate amount of oxygen necessary for proper decomposition.
“We applaud the move towards more ecologically friendly packaging,” says CompostMania co-founder Karl Warkomski, “and hope that these steps can address the invasive penetration of plastic debris in our waterways and along our roads. Just as food scraps will decompose in a hospitable environment like a compost bin, the packaging should be designed in a way that also leaves no trace.”
However, Karl is quick to point out that the packaging itself is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to creating the greenest options for eco-conscious consumers.
“Though this industry is relatively new,” says Karl, “a long term goal should be to process the renewable raw materials with renewable energy, rather than fossil fuels. If it takes more fossil fuels to produce, distribute and recycle biodegradable over non-, have we really gained anything?”
In fact, Karl says CompostMania will test the Sun Chips bag and other compostable packaging materials in the new BioPod Plus this year and report our findings. For a material that normally decomposes in 14 weeks, it will be interesting to see how long it takes in the BioPod grub composting bin, which break down food waste in 24 to 48 hours!
Wooden compost bin image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/solylunafamilia/2985709812/