The Home Compostable Revolution for Single-Use Products

May 1, 2020

Last week’s 50th Anniversary celebration of Earth Day could not have come at a better time. As we continue to see changes in our planet as a result of the self-quarantine of human beings, it’s important to look to the post-COVID future. We don’t want to undo all of the work Mother Nature did while we were away. We need to take this opportunity and run with it and continue to make changes that will support our planet and our society as well. One of the largest problems to tackle is single-use plastics. They’ve created a noose around the neck of our planet, which hasn’t loosened at all during the quarantine. It has simply changed from a noose of plastic bottles to a noose of rubber gloves. This week, UrthPact is diving into the revolutionary solution to our single-use problem: home compostable bioplastics.

Home compostable truly is the future of the plastics industry. The base of home compostable bioplastics is a material called PHA, or polyhydroxyalkanoate. It’s a type of compostable polymer that is naturally produced by a variety of microorganisms. Made from the products of canola oil production, PHA can be combined with other compostable materials to produce products with a wide range of characteristics. One incredible organization that has truly jump-started the bioplastic revolution is Danimer Scientific. Based out of Bainbridge, Georgia, Danimer combines biotechnology and engineering to produce PHA for use in a variety of different projects. As a long-time partner with Danimer, UrthPact has been working alongside Danimer scientists to develop the Nodax PHA resin, as well as to put it to use in our products.

Let’s look into the details a bit. What truly makes home compostable materials revolutionary? The clearest answer is the fact that they are certified for home compost. Home compostables are different from all of the other “compostable” products out there. Many of those are industrially compostable, meaning they are made with a different bioplastic called PLA (polylactic acids), and require added heat and microbes in order to compost. Home compost is a whole new opportunity, as it means that this material and products made from it can compost not only in your own backyard but anaerobically in landfills and in marine environments if they accidentally get there. The compost produced can then be used to support the growth of new canola plants. This gives home compostables a completely circular lifecycle, something that will never be able to be said of traditional petroleum-based plastics. Because it’s about the beginning of the material’s life too. Creating products with petroleum-plastics is very unhealthy for the environment, while PHA production is completely clean and green.

A lot of people want to ban single-use plastics outright. But realistically, that will never work. How could we have combated coronavirus without single-use gloves? Or masks? Or food packaging? Bans are short-sighted. Home compost is the true solution for the single-use industry. And with a revolutionary base material like PHA plus the technology to use it to create home compostable products on an industrial scale, we are just on the cusp of completely blowing apart the mold. At UrthPact, our partnership with organizations like Danimer Scientific gives us the opportunity to be at the forefront of this revolution. Our home compostable straws are just the first step towards the bioplastic future. We’ve joined in the revolution. Will you?

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