Compostable - vs - Biodegradable - Let's Break it Down!

What is the difference? (Hint.. micro-plastics)

Given enough time, all things biodegrade, meaning they breakdown as they are exposed to light, water, and air.  Even a plastic milk jug will naturally breakdown, though it may take hunderds of years (estimates are about 450 years at least)  When plastic does break down, it can never fully be reintegrated into the eco system, as the small plastic particles cannot be digested and turned into organic matter by micro-organisms.  These small particles, also known as micro-plastics, remain in the environment indefinitely.   So, saying something is biodegradable is not saying much…. 

plastic bottle on a beach

Compostable items, by contrast, are made of organic materials that breakdown through microbial digestion.  The micro-organisms consume and transform these materials into organic matter that creates compost, a nutrient rich soil.   

 

That is is why Two Leaves and a Bud’s tea sachets and the clear wrapper are made from the plant based material, “PLA”.

PLA or Polylactic acid is derived from dextrose, a type of sugar found in corn, sugarcane, or sugar beet pulp.   This material is able to be metabolized by microorganisms.  This is why when you drink Two Leaves and a Bud tea there are no micro plastics in your cup and why when you dispose of our sachets and packaging there is no micro plastic residue in the environment.   Our tea is better for you and for the environment.

(In addition, the PLA materials that we use to create our sachets and envelopes are produced using 65% less energy than petroleum-based plastics, are non-toxic and made from plant based renewable resources. )  

 

But don’t just take our word for it!  To be considered compostable, the materials used must meet U.S. Standards ASTM D6400 and/or European Standards EN 13432 which has been tested and proven to completely decompose in a composting environment.  Our materials pass both of these standards. 

Commercial-vs-Home Composting –  Let’s Break It Down…

Commercial composting means that the temperature and humidity levels are controlled to maximize the composting process, which can take anywhere from 90-180 days depending on the method used:  windrow, in-vesel, and aerated static pile. 

Most “backyard” home composts do not have such controls and as such, may not have the same degree of success in breaking down commercially composted items.  Having Two Leaves and a Bud sachets and envelopes in your backyard pile is not detrimental is it does not contain or release any particles that cannot be broken-down by micro-organisms.  It is not impossible, but will need more care in monitoring temperature and humidity levels and may take much longer than commercial composting. 

There are now a variety of compositing machines for home use that can do the job of industrial composting in your own home.  If you are interested in learning more, this site has compared and ranked those that work best.  If you are interested in finding composting resources near you, check out, Find a Composter.com 

Two Leaves and a Bud has led the tea industry in our compostable packaging since 2015, and a lot of thought has gone into our packaging.  Our goals are bigger than just providing a delicious cup of tea.  We strive to do the right thing for the environment through the business decisions that we make.  That includes using compostable plant based materials for our sachets and wrappers, using unlaminated boxes that breakdown and recycle with less energy, as well as sourcing organically grown tea.  All of these business decisions play a part in promoting a healthier environment, rejuvenating our soils, reducing waste and greenhouse gases.  By drinking Two Leaves and a Bud tea you are part of our “Community in Cup”, our network of growers, pluckers, packers, distributors, environmental partners  and tea drinkers and why we are Notoriously Picky about Tea (and packaging!)

  Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash

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