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How sustainable is compostable?

Posted about 6 months ago by Anni

They give us grief, these cups. They show a pretty leaf and they say ‚compostable‘ or ‚biodegradable‘. Nothing to worry about, right?

 

Well, IF these compostable items were collected separately from our normal waste and recycling and IF Hauraki District had the means of composting or processing them correctly in  a commercial composting unit THEN, at least, we wouldn’t end up with the amount of landfill that these cups are creating at the moment. Landfill is an anaerobic environment and is not the place to process this material. Continuing to place our waste in landfill only adds significantly to the problem of green house gas. Methane and CO2 are the  two that worry us so much when we think about our changing climate.

 

The grim reality was brought out to me when I talked to Pat Cronin from Waikato District Council recently. Pat is the Waste Minimisation Officer and I have experienced her to hold a wealth of knowledge, especially around recycling - or downcycling, as she calls it.

Pat pointed out that moving from one single use product (plastic) to another single use product (bio-degradable/compostable) is not a solution in itself – it’s just moving it around from fossil fuels to food. This would sideline valuable resources for a single use.

Does that seem viable to you?

And, obviously, this even applies to plain paperbags. To all single use items, really.

We surely are facing a complex challenge here, with no one solution.

 

The answer can only be a change in our habits and our behaviours.AVOIDING (generating waste in the first place) REUSING. Reuse anything and only buy what can be reused.

If you do that, then I will endeavour to ask Jack Johnson to rewrite his song ‚reduce, reuse, recycle‘ to REFUSE, REDUCE, REUSE. I absolutely promise.

 

Please remember to bring in your reusable coffee cup when you come in for a takeaway coffee or grab a second hand one from our basket.

We also sell a wide array of beautiful KeepCups and the first fill is on the house. Because we SALUTE THE REUSER! 

 

Further reading: https://www.pce.parliament.nz/publications/biodegradable-and-compostable-plastics-in-the-environment/biodegradable-and-compostable-plastics-in-the-environment

http://www.mfe.govt.nz/waste/waste-guidance-and-technical-information/biodegradable-and-compostable-plastics

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