How to Choose Compostable Plates and Biodegradable Plates?
Are compostable plates and biodegradable plates the same? They are diffrent, and compostable plates is better than biodegradable plates.
Both are frequently used in environmentalist kitchens, hotels, and wedding parties. These two product terms often come up in discussions about environmentally-friendly tableware.
This article introduces what compostable and biodegradable plates are. We will also discusses their differences and describes how to choose between them.
When you buy or wholesale paper plates, you can choose between compostable and biodegradable. These two eco-friendly products are entirely different, which most vendors do not explain. The most noteworthy differences between them are their unique biodegradability and environmental impact.
This guide consists of 8 sections, click on any section that you interest to get there quickly.
What is degradable?
We need to understand that degradable first, it refers to organic or inorganic matter that can be broken down into smaller units.
Plastic is also degradable, but not all.This process takes a long time even with degradation equipment.
Plastic never entirely degrades; instead, it breaks down into hundreds of millions of tiny plastic particles. These potentially toxic particles enter the soil, rivers, and oceans through nature and human movement and continue to pose a serious risk to the health of people and the planet.As the name suggests, biodegradable means degradation under natural conditions.
What is compostable plates?
A compostable plate is a plate that decomposes naturally and fully into nutrients over time and has a positive effect on soil and agriculture. This process produces carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds, and biomass without leaving a toxic residue like plastic.
Home and industrial compostable are the two types of this plate. Both are different in many ways.
Home compostable plates
When the disposable paper plates you buy are real compostable, they can physically decompose with fungi and bacteria after being in your garden for six months. This process will occur along with fallen leaves, dead grass, and other natural elements since this process is completely natural.
To be considered compostable, the plates must also chemically decompose within 12 months, create fertilizer and provide nutrients to compost for your soil. They need to meet these two requirements.
Industrial compostable plates
Industrial compostable plates have lower biodegradable standards than home compostable. Under high temperatures and carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen levels, plates are fully biodegradable. This degree of biodegradability means they are also industry compostable.
Under these industry conditions, the paper plates will decompose faster and complete physical and chemical degradation to form compost within 90-180 days.
Unfortunately, the number of industrial composting facilities is limited, and industrial composting is not suitable for large quantities of consumers.
Composting is the recycling of organic waste.
Compostable plates can decompose into natural elements in the natural environment of composting and feeding back into the soil. No harmful substances will remain after composting is complete, which is very beneficial for the environment.
Materials for compostable plate
The primary raw material used to produce compostable plates is usually bagasse. Bagasse is found in most parts of the world, especially in agriculturally developed countries like Brazil and India.
Bagasse is a recyclable and sustainable raw material, which ensures that the compostable plates produced are eco-friendly and sustainable.
Oil and water repellents are added during the production process to improve the availability of sugarcane plates. These additives also break down naturally during the composting process; they differ from biodegradable materials such as PLA, which we will discuss below.
What is biodegradable plates?
The term “biodegradable” is commonly used to describe everyday items, not just disposable cutlery like paper plates.
So, what does biodegradation actually mean? Biodegradation refers to degradation, specifically the role of natural microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi.
Biodegradable plates take between six and twelve months to degrade in nature. However, the process depends on several environmental factors, such as temperature, humidity, and the availability of sunlight. Complete degradation is not guaranteed under the plate biodegradation process.
Plates labeled as biodegradable often contain a limited amount of bioplastic or bioplastic film, such as PLA film. The biodegradation of these bioplastics takes a long time, negatively impacting the environment. Additionally, low-quality biodegradable plates may contain metal residues that are difficult to degrade in natural conditions.
Therefore, biodegradable plates don’t necessarily produce fertilizers and nutrients that are good for the soil; instead, they often damage soil and the environment.
Materials for biodegradable plates
Bioplastics created with PLA, CPLA, or plant starches, such as corn starch with PLA membrane added, are used to produce biodegradable plates. Each of these bioplastics differs significantly in terms of degradability and its impact on the environment.
Bioplastics must be able to undergo natural physical decomposition under high temperatures and humidity, and these plates are not considered compostable. Despite this, the vast majority of bioplastic products don’t degrade completely and often end up in landfills, which poses risks to the environment.
As for corn starch plates, they often have different biodegradability depending on unique manufacturing processes. Currently, the bulk of corn starch plates on the market have PLA membrane added, which results in lower prices. However, these plates are not 100% biodegradable.
Research on paper plates and their impacts needs to be grounded in reality. As an organic matter, corn starch is compostable. Despite this, most starch paper plates have bioplastics added during manufacturing, offsetting the benefits of corn starch and making them non-compostable.
What You Should Know About Paper Plate Materials?
Which paper plate materials are most popular with consumers and best for your business?
Why do we need to know these differences?
Make the most of your purchase
Usually, businesses choose the publicity of a product that is most beneficial for themselves rather than their consumers or the environment. When you buy plates labeled biodegradable, it simply means they are non-compostable.
Whether you are an individual buyer, a hotel or restaurant owner, or a purchasing manager for a wholesaler or retailer, it is important to understand the differences between plates. Having knowledge of compostable and biodegradable plate qualities can be valuable to your sourcing.
Eco-friendly and recyclable
Used, disposable paper plates also end up in the natural world; this means that your purchasing habits can strongly impact the environment. Compostable plates decompose entirely over time and produce fertilizer to nourish the soil without toxic residue. These plates are environmentally sound, recyclable, and sustainable.
Biodegradable plates, such as PLA plates, have several benefits their competitors do not. They are highly biodegradable compared to ordinary plastics. However, they still take a long time to degrade naturally and never degrade entirely; these plates may even leave behind toxic substances, such as heavy metals.
Biodegradable plates do not meet compostable testing standards in many countries. These include the U.S. and several European countries, which also do not recognize them for restricted use. Examples include ASTM D6400-99 in the United States and EN 13432 in Europe
Overview of their differences
Let’s review the main similarities and differences between compostable and biodegradable plates.
What they have in common:
- Both are degradable by bacteria, fungi, and microbes in the natural environment.
- Not all compostable plates are biodegradable, and not all biodegradable plates are compostable.
- Compostable plates are 100% degradable, while most biodegradable plates are not.
- Compostable plates produce fertilizer that enters the soil. Biodegradable plates don’t have this ability.
- Compostable plates don’t leave toxic residue. However, biodegradable plates may leave heavy metals in the soil.
What kind of paper plates should I choose?
As the reality of the world’s waste problem becomes more serious, both companies and individuals now play a significant role in global sustainable development.
Price is a valuable factor in buying and wholesale. Compostable plates cost more than most biodegradable plates. Despite this, it is clear that more frequent use of home-compostable plates could produce more benefits for the environment and contribute to global sustainability.