The Packaging Debate.. Compostable VS Recyclable

by Desiree Dupuis on July 27, 2021
The Packaging Debate.. Compostable VS Recyclable
Most of us that care about the future health of the planet are looking for the most sustainable products with the most sustainable packaging. The question we have come across is... is it better to use plastic that is recyclable or to use 'compostable' packaging made from renewable sources such as corn and sugarcane?!!

Compostable packaging 

Compostable packaging seems like the winner here, but as we have been doing our research to source the most planet friendly packaging for our products we have discovered that the truth is that most compostable packaging contains PLA (Polylactic Acid) which is only actually compostable in a commercial facility where it can be blasted with high intensity heat. I have been guilty of associating Compostable with Biodegradable which is not correct as the two are not the same. Biodegradable means that products will break down naturally in nature by microorganisms, compostable means that there is some human help/input such as adding water and/or oxygen.

Bio packaging

PROS

  • No fossil fuels, oil, petroleum
  • Plant-based
  • Potential carbon sequestration
  • Lower environmental impact

CONS

  • Water use to grow crops
  • Land use to grow crops
  • Crops could be better used to actually feed humans
  • Limited to commercial composting (do not throw in your compost at home)

On the other hand, plastic as we know is made from oil and petroleum and is horrible for our planet and toxic for us as well. One of the biggest problems is that so much of the plastic being produced is for single use items and such a small percentage of plastic is actually recycled. The flip side is that when plastics are recycled they can actually be turned into pretty awesome products. Stay tuned for a future blog about the life of plastic.

What about Glass?

Glass also seems like a better option; however when compared to plastic packaging for food; the shelf-life can actually be significantly longer with plastic meaning there is less food waste and food manufactures can provide food products at a lower, most accessible price that last longer.

Do you have any thoughts on this? We'd love to hear from you hello@koveocean.com

 

Sources
  1. Corn Plastic to the Rescue | Science | Smithsonian Magazine
  2. 8 Things You Need To Know About PLA Plastic - Law Print & Packaging Management Ltd (lawprintpack.co.uk)
  3. Biodegradable vs. Compostable: What's the Difference? (treehugger.com)