How To Properly Compost Biodegradable Shrink Films
Earth-Friendly! Compostable! Biodegradable! Sustainable!
All of these are surely buzz words you have seen a million times before. For instance, there has been a lot of pressure from consumers to replace plastic straws with paper ones.
Then you have the public call to corporations to drop single-use plastics. These modern words of power have invaded the collective unconscious. This is true for most consumers the world over.
This is all for a good reason. This sentiment stems from the perspective of a love affair with planet earth.
Due to various reasons, many types of "earth-friendly" packaging are, in fact, not. For example, contamination in the single-stream recycling process. Then, there is the required protocols for biodegradable options.
Do you buy biodegradable shrink films? If you don't compost them, you reduce all the earth-friendly elements of the material. Industrial Packaging has over 60 years in the packaging business. We know what works and what does not for sustainable packaging supplies.
In this article, we will explore the requirements for composting biodegradable shrink films. Will your consumers implement these protocols? If so, they may very well make sense for your business. If not, you may make less of an impact on the environment with traditional packaging films.
The Two Ways To Compost Biodegradable Shrink Film
For biodegradable films to be "earth-friendly," they have to be composted properly. Just flinging biofilms on the side of the road is not acceptable. They will not break down correctly if they are simply dropped on the ground.
For biofilms to fully biodegrade, they must be composted in one of two ways. The first way is for the consumer to dispose of the film in a home-based compost pile. The second way is for businesses to collect or stockpile these used items. Next, they would send them to an industrial composting site.
What Is An Industrial Composting Site?
Industrial composting is also known as commercial composting. It was created to compost ultra-high biodegradable waste levels. An operation like this is done on a much larger scale than at-home composting applications.
The composting done at an industrial composting facility generates large compost quantities, which are then sold to farms, municipalities, home and garden centers, or landscaping businesses.
The environmental movement continues to rise. As such, consumer's interests in sustainable packaging materials have grown. The industrial composting industry has boomed as a side effect of this growth.
"Industrial composting produces more than just high quality compost for soil remediation. It also produces jobs, a greener environment, enhanced food security, less waste, and less truck traffic hauling garbage. All the more reason for manufacturers and retail businesses alike to join us in supporting composting on every level."
Industrial composters often offer recycling-style bins. These are often used in event spaces. They are also seen in municipalities. This allows consumers to dispose of biodegradable and compostable packaging correctly.
These bins are regularly collected. Then they are emptied. This is done in a similar way to how single-stream recycling is done. Does your community have access to these bins? If not, your biodegradable packaging materials must be composted at home.
Failure to compost these items properly negates their effectiveness. In this case, they are not a sustainable alternative to traditional packaging supplies. Most biodegradable shrink films are not recyclable. If they are thrown into a single stream recycling bin, they will be thrown into a landfill.
Suppose you throw your compostable shrink films into the trash. In that case, they will be sitting inside a trash bag. Trash bags can take up to one thousand years to biodegrade. This negates the earth-friendly element of these films.
Need Help Choosing The Right Shrink Film?
How To Compost Biodegradable Shrink Films At Home
When it comes to home composting, there are a few rules you need to follow. And this all begins with having a compost heap.
Have you been composting for a while? Then you are aware that you will run into significant problems by throwing the wrong items into the pile. Something non-compostable in your compost pile generates toxic byproducts in the compost. If this happens, you will have to dispose of the entire pile and start all over again.
Don't you wish you could throw shrink film in the compost pile? Sure, we all do, but now, several new bio-based shrink films are available that allow you to do just that.
For example, PLA by HyfPack is 100% biodegradable. It is a plant-based film that you can toss into your compost pile at home without worry. Microorganisms can break down this film. They can break down other biofilm brands as well. Other plant-based items can also be broken down this way—items such as forks, spoons, cups, and flexible pouches.
But, if you have never started a compost pile in your yard, how do you get started? By following the steps below, you will be able to form a compost pile. In which you can toss your biodegradable and plant-based shrink films.
How To Start A Compost Pile
- Begin your compost pile on a patch of bare ground. This will invite useful organisms. Organisms like worms and bacteria. They will aerate the compost prior to being applied to your garden or yard.
- First, drop some straw or hay on the chosen spot about two inches deep. This step will allow for superior aeration and draining of water.
- Next, you will want to add multiple layers of biodegradable materials. Switching between moist and dry materials such as food waste and coffee grinds. Banana peels, wood chips, and other similar items are also good. Mix in some ash with each layer to aid in clumping.
- Next, you will want to add some animal poo (manure). Cow manure is an excellent option for this. This step will kick start the composting process. And set you up for successful composting.
- To ensure proper moisture levels, water your pile regularly. But, do not thoroughly saturate it. You want a moist pile, not a soaked one.
- Cover your pile with a tarp between watering.
- Aerate your pile by blending it with a pitchfork or shovel once every two weeks. Mix in new organic and biodegradable items. Items like food waste and biodegradable shrink film.
What Is The Availability Of Biodegradable Shrink Films?
Bio-based packaging materials are fast gaining the modern consumer's interest. But, there are not a lot of bio-films currently available.
When it comes to biodegradable shrink films, there are only a handful of products available. These products include Wells Plastic's Biolefin, Clysar's PLAnet, EcoFilm, Nature STAR, and PLA by HyfPack. These are, for the most part, your currently available options for biofilms.
What If You Can't Compost Your Biodegradable Films?
Do you have access to an industrial composting site? If not, use a home compost pile. Will you and your consumers commit to using one of these two options? If not, then biodegradable shrink films are not an earth-friendly option for you.
In this case, you will want to consider using traditional plastic shrink films. They have a significantly lower carbon footprint. They also have a lower impact on our planet earth. This is true concerning the other most popular alternative packaging materials.
Additionally, you may want to consider looking into recycling your shrink films. This is not generally possible with single-stream recycling. But, it can be accomplished by using independent waste management companies. These are companies that have the required infrastructure to recycle the materials properly.
Where Can You Learn More About Shrink Film?
If you are looking for a one-stop resource for all things shrink film, you will definitely want to read The Complete Guide to Shrink Film. Within the pages of this free resource, you will find everything you need to know about shrink film.
About Nathan Dube
As the Digital Marketing Specialist at Industrial Packaging, I am honored to create content for such a phenomenal company and work with one of the greatest teams in the Packaging Industry. Whether creating a video, writing blog posts or generating other pieces of content and multimedia, I am always excited to help educate and inspire our prospects and clients to reach their highest potential in regards to their packaging processes and needs.