01st of June 2017Composting & recycling

What is the difference between home and commercial composting?

Composting is the natural, biological decomposition of organic matter by fungi, bacteria, insects, worms and other organisms to produce a nutrient rich humus or compost. Successful composting entails the management of the decomposition process so that it is relatively quick, safe and clean. Composting organic food and packaging offers an opportunity to divert tonnes of waste from landfill – returning valuable nutrients back into the soil and eliminating the methane gas that organics emit when they biodegrade in landfill.

There are a number of benefits to compost that not everyone is aware of – some examples:

  • Organic waste in landfills generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas. By composting wasted food and other organics, methane emissions are significantly reduced.
  • Compost reduces and in some cases eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers.
  • Compost promotes higher yields of agricultural crops.
  • Compost can help aid reforestation, wetlands restoration, and habitat revitalization efforts by improving contaminated, compacted, and marginal soils.
  • Compost can be used to remediate soils contaminated by hazardous waste in a cost effective manner.
  • Compost can capture and destroy 99% of industrial volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) in contaminated air.

Commercial vs. home composting
A commercial compost facility optimises the process to ensure rapid biodegradation of organic material. There are many types of commercial composts, summaries below, they all optimise each step of the decomposition process, by controlling condition like shredding material to the same size or controlling the temperature and oxygen levels. These measures ensure a rapid biodegradation of the organic material to a high quality, toxic-free compost.

Home composts produce the same quality compost at the end of the process but they may not maintain the ideal conditions required for composting certain products such as our PLA bioplastic products which require sustained temperatures of 55°C for 10 days to break the molecular bonds. Home compost aren't good for meat, fish or dairy either as they will smell and/or attract vermin.

Types of commercial composts

Aerated Static Pile
Process in which decomposing organic material is placed in piles over an air supply system that can be used to supply oxygen and control temperature for the purpose of producing compost. Piles must be insulated to assure that all parts of the decomposing material reach and maintain temperatures at or above 55°C for a minimum of 3 days.

Turned Windrow
Process in which decomposing organic materials are placed in long piles for the purpose of producing compost. The piles are periodically turned or agitated to assure all parts of the decomposing material reach the desired stability.

Process in which decomposing organic material is enclosed in a drum, silo, bin, tunnel, or other container for the purpose of producing compost; and in which temperature, moisture and air-borne emissions are controlled, vectors are excluded and nuisance and odour generation minimized.

Let's get serious about waste
Australia and New Zealand send over 8 million tonnes of organic waste to landfill every year and composting is the solution.

Governments and businesses across the world are working tirelessly to process this ever-increasing wave of rubbish with zero waste targets. Our local council – Waverly Council in Bondi Junction, Australia – is close to introducing kerbside composting bins for residential and commercials properties that will collect garden clippings, food scraps and compostable packaging. In the meantime they hand sort our general waste and remove all organic food and packaging for composting.

Organic waste going to landfill is a major problem. Landfills are not designed to promote the biodegradation of waste, only to store it. Organic material disposed of in this oxygen deprived environment will slowly decompose and release methane, a greenhouse gas 80 times more potent than CO2 and a significant contributor to global warming.

Oz Harvest studies show that the average household in Australia throws out 1 out of 5 bags of shopping every year. This equates to every Australian household throwing our $1,036 worth of groceries every year.

The current linear economic model in which we take, make and dispose relies on large quantities of cheap, easily accessible materials and energy, and is a model that is reaching its physical limits. A circular economy is a viable and sustainable alternative that we are applying to single use food service disposables.

This model requires that we utilise resources more efficiently and effectively recover and recycle waste. We envision a future with virtually no waste but only (secondary) raw materials that are reinjected into a circular economy.

We are very proud to be a key partner to a number of business who have achieved or are working towards zero waste targets. Zoos Victoria's goal is to be completely waste free by 2019. They use BioPak packaging in all their food service outlets and all their waste packaging, food scraps, mulch and animal poo gets processed in their Multi Re-use Facility creating the high quality compost – Zoo Gro. Read more.