What is compostable plastic and why do we use it?

At HMCA Services we aim to do our bit to ensure that the work we do is environmentally sustainable. Recently, in our pursuit of achieving this, we have introduced the use of compostable plastic. But what is compostable plastic?

Although many consider compostable plastic to be the equivalent of biodegradable plastic, they are not the same. The term ‘biodegradable’ refers to material breaking down with the help of micro-organisms. However, this type of plastic can leave toxic material behind.

In contrast with traditional plastic and, as mentioned, some biodegradable plastic, compostable plastic can be broken down into carbon dioxide, water and biomass without leaving toxic material behind. It is made from renewable materials rather than fossil fuels and therefore uses less energy to manufacture.

However, it is important to consider that compostable plastic must end up in a composting environment. Without the knowledge that a plastic is compostable, it could be mistaken for traditional plastic and consequently not end up in the correct environment. Without conditions allowing for air, moisture and sunlight, the plastic may not decompose.

The compostable bags used by HMCA services are provided by leading packaging experts Polythene UK. The starch-based compostable bags are designed to break down naturally and are 100% compostable within the correct environment.

Although more costly, we believe this to be an excellent green alternative to regular plastic packaging as long as the knowledge is there to dispose of it within the correct environment. ‘Polycomp TM’, Polythene UK’s compostable bag, can be disposed of on any compost heap, in a household garden waste bin or in a household food waste bin.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are interested in the use of compostable packaging for the mailing of any of your Association’s publications.