Disposing of biodegradable products

30th Sep 2021

Disposing of biodegradable products

Many biodegradable, bio-plastic or compostable products are not recyclable. They should be disposed of separately to avoid contaminating otherwise recyclable products.

Plastic and other materials in domestic recycling bins

Understanding different biodegradable materials and terms


An item is ‘biodegradable’ when living organisms are able to break it down .

If the term ‘biodegradable’ is present on a product, it can lead to assumptions that harmful by-products are eliminated. But as specific microbes must be present for each specific substance, this isn’t guaranteed.

Degradable plastics

These may be made entirely from petrochemicals, or natural products like cornflour.

‘Degradable’ means that in specific conditions, such as the presence of moisture and heat, a product will break down into smaller parts.

This is not necessarily good for the environment, as there’s potential for microplastics to be present. As these products are rarely compostable or recyclable, they tend to end up in landfill or burned for fuel.

Oxo-degradable plastics

A plastic item which breaks down when exposed to oxygen seems like an efficient, environmentally friendly concept. However, some oxo-degradable products fail to break down when buried under soil, submerged in water, or smothered in compost. This leaves them to persist in the environment.

Just because something can be broken down, it doesn’t mean the process won’t negatively impact the environment. As well as microplastics, oxo-degradable products have the potential to release harmful gases and chemicals during decomposition.

Plastic carrier bag in a hedge


Either entirely or mostly non-fossil fuel-based, bioplastics are often viewed as being more sustainable than fossil fuel-based plastics.

As ‘bio’ only refers to their makeup, not how they break down, these plastics are not necessarily biodegradable or compostable.


Home compostable

Companies will state whether their products are suitable for home composting. The time it takes for an item to break down will vary.

To be certified as compostable a product must be shown to disintegrate up to 90% within 12 weeks, into pieces no larger than 2mm.

Industrial composting

Many compostable plastics require specific conditions to decompose, such as very high temperatures, moisture levels unattainable at home, and the presence of specific microbes.

Plastics that cannot be composted at home should be set aside and sent to specialist composting plants.

Conscious consumerism

Aside from compostable biodegradable products, most have no other destination except landfill.

Choosing compostable goods affords control over the disposal process at home. It ensures an eco-friendly process which will result in the creation of nutrient-rich compost.

How to compost effectively

A healthy compost pile should be 50% green waste and 50% brown waste.

Green waste is nitrogen-rich organic matter that can decompose, like food waste, grass cuttings or fresh leaves.

Brown waste comes from carbon-rich items like straw, dried leaves, twigs, and shredded paper.

Start by alternating thin layers of green and brown waste. This encourages healthy aeration and drainage. It also avoids organic matter rotting in clumps.

Compost should be turned every 2-4 weeks to provide oxygen for the decomposition process and kept damp.

Compost heaps should be covered to maintain a temperature warm enough to fuel the decomposition process. Most bins or specially designed containers will maintain this by design.

Inefficient composting may cause products to take longer to break down or not to compost at all.

Plastic bottles in landfill

Compostable disposable eco-friendly tableware

When it comes to sourcing disposal tableware for everyday eating, private functions, or industrial catering, one of the most serious consequences is ensuring that the waste created won’t add to the environmental crisis.

Our range of biodegradable plates, bowls, cutlery and straws is a waste-reduction solution suitable for all types of use cases. In addition to being durable and reusable, they’re also fully home compostable.

As we do not use harmful chemicals at any stage during manufacture, our tableware is completely food safe. The compost generated is also safe to use on your garden.

Keen to switch to compostable catering products? Browse our blog archive for more insights on how conscious consumerism can lead to conscionable product development.