Seeing the words "compostable" and "biodegradable" on products is starting to become more common. We're seeing it on everything from iPhone cases to bin-liners (and even coffee pods....can you believe it :)).
As simple and as common as the terms "compostable" and "biodegradable" are, the actual implications vary widely. There are many different certifications for compostability and biodegradability and each certification has different requirements. A few common certification standards are the TUV Austria (TUV OK) and Australian Standards (AS).
If you live in Australia, buying Australian Certified Compostable products, vs. International Certified, means that Australian waste facilities can properly process the product you bought.
The ability to dispose of a product properly is as import as the materials the product is created from.
This means that products without Australian Certifications are (mostly) destined for landfill. While ending in landfill is definitely not the point of compostable products, it is important to note that most will breakdown in landfill faster than products made from metals or traditional plastics, as well as they're typically made from more renewable resources.
Here's two examples to illustrate the point more clearly of what happens to Australian Certified Bioplastics vs. European Certified:
Example 1 - European Certified: An Adelaide resident throws a European Certified Compostable Coffee Pod in their household green bin. That pod reaches the facility, is filtered out of the compost stream, and then is sent to a landfill.
Example 2 - Australian Certified: An Adelaide resident throws a AS4736 certified compostable product (such as Tripod Coffee pod) into their household green bin. That pod enters the composting process, transitions into a fertiliser, then goes on to help Australian farmers grow more crops.
So, when you're buying your next sustainable product, look for the Seedling Logo and a certification that begins in "AS".
Here's our Seedling logo