Biodegradable and Compostable


Biodegradable plastics as per #ISO17088 equivalent to European Union standard , EN13432 and American Standard ASTM 6400 is called Compostable Plastics.

There are two criterion for Compostable plastics

  1. Presence of Oxygen in the facility or Aerobic biodegradation
  2. Composting to be done in an Industrial Composting Facility

Industrial Composting facilities are available in a few countries, mainly #Europe. Rest of the world including #USA have very few of these as the waste has to be either circulated or #oxygen pushed in artificially till the depths of the waste ( which is not feasible ).

#Biodegradation in nature occurs in an environment in presence and absence of oxygen, leading to a mix of different microbes  in the environment.

There is no bold line in nature, which separates #Aerobic microbes (Oxygen breathing) and #Anaerobic microbes (Without Oxygen), both types of microbes exist and act everywhere, many a times in conjunction or partnership, consuming different types of food from the same molecule.

India like other developing countries has a waste management system of #landfills, where all types of wastes are disposed of, organic (wet), and inorganic (mostly dry). These landfills are anaerobic due to huge amounts of waste and the absence of oxygen. #Methane (Biogas) is released from the anaerobic decomposition of the organic waste in these landfills. Methane is a natural byproduct of organic/vegetable biodegradation and one of the biggest emitters of Methane is Rice Fields.

So expecting Compostable plastics as per IS0 17088 to biodegrade in this environment is a pipe’s dream.

Even corn #starch/#PLA/#PHA plastics touted as ultimate solution to biodegradability will fail to Compost as these are chains of cellulose are biodegraded by mostly aerobic microbes.

Thus #compostable plastics as per ISO 17088 cannot be implemented in India or facilities , which are not #IndustrialComposting