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Ep 38: How Recycling, Biodegradable And Compostable Are Not The Same

Today on the podcast, I'm talking with Scott Morton, an expert at BioBag. BioBag creates sustainable, 100% compostable alternatives to plastic bags that break down without any toxic residue.

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Biobag produces environmentally friendly alternatives to the standard polyethylene plastics used to create mainstream plastic shopping bags, bin liners, food storage and even dog waste bags!

I am always (pleasantly!) surprised when the Nourished Life team talks to me about what our best sellers are each week. One brand that's almost always sitting on top of that list? BioBag! I didn't think bin liners, dog waste bags and shopping bags could possibly be all that interesting, but I was so wrong.

BioBag creates 100% compostable alternatives to traditional plastic bags, and I'm so thrilled to see that you guys all love them as much as I do! When I look at how I dispose of our household waste, I feel like there are two options- a plastic garbage bag that will never, ever degrade and will stick around in landfill forever, or a BioBag! The only thing that seems to be holding people back is convenience, but when you realise how easy it is to make the switch to BioBag (and how much better they are for the planet), I promise you you'll never look back.

This week on Talking Clean With Irene, I spoke to BioBag expert Scott Morton about what BioBags actually are, how we can better dispose of waste in our households, and got him to clear up an age old debate- recyclable, biodegradable vs compostable.

What is a BioBag?

BioBag create a range of plastic-alternative products, all of which are 100% compostable. "If you can make it out of plastic, there's a very good chance you can make it out of compostable materials," Scott tells me, so there really is no excuse to be using traditional plastics anymore!

BioBags are predominantly starch based, which means they completely break down in compost (unlike traditional plastic bags, which may never break down). Scott tells me that the purpose of a BioBag is to "capture organic resources," because when you collect organic materials and place them inside another organic material (like a BioBag), it can completely disappear.


So, how can we capture organic resources?

One of the best ways to start collecting organics in your home is by using the BioBag Max Air 2 Ventilated Compost Caddy- a Nourished Life best seller with good reason! The beauty of the caddy is that you can just pop it in your kitchen and use it to dispose of your own food scraps, then put the entire bag into your own compost or into your green waste bin, because the bag is designed to be eaten by the organisms that will also be breaking down your food scraps. The beauty of this caddy is that it allows you to start safely disposing of waste without changing your behaviour at all!

One of the other great things about implementing the Compost Caddy in your home is that you'll be saving most of your "wet waste" from ending up in the regular rubbish bin. What this means is that your rubbish bin should be completely dry, so you can actually start going completely bagless!

Something to be wary of when looking for a safer alternative to traditional plastic bags is greenwashing. We're seeing more and more bin liners on supermarket shelves made from sugar cane, which might sound great in theory, but they can actually still last a thousand years without breaking down! When choosing a plastic alternative, it's best to opt for a certified "compostable" bag.

Why compostable? What's the difference between compostable, recyclable and biodegradable?

It's best to choose a certified compostable plastic alternative, like all of BioBag's products, because they have to fit within some pretty strict Australian standards. If a bag is labelled as compostable and has the certification, then we know that it will be gone within three months in a commercial compost environment, and within six months in a home compost environment.

The word "recyclable" is a bit of a tricky one, because technically speaking, just about everything is recyclable! Think about recyclable as "reusable." A dog poop bag is technically reusable, but you just never would. For this reason we end up using a lot of recyclable materials as single use items.

"Biodegradable" is a little less tricky, because in Australia it actually means nothing at all! The ACCC tell companies not to use the word biodegradable, because there's no real definition nor any guarantee how long it will last before breaking down.

Biobag Info

Rather than navigating too much jargon and trying to avoid all the greenwashing you can find in the supermarket, I've found it much easier to just swap out all of the traditional plastics in my home to BioBag's compostable alternatives. Our bin liners, bread bags, produce bags and even dog waste bags are all BioBag now! And it seems I'm not the only one. "There is hope!" Scott tells me. "People are learning, and people are coming on board."

Shop the BioBag range now.

Links and resources:
Biobag on Nourished Life

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