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Compostable

Breaks down into natural components that become part of healthy soil.

Definition


Compostable materials go a step beyond biodegradable materials by breaking down into natural components and becoming a part of healthy soil, in accordance with ASTM 6400 compostability standards1.

At Lumi, compostable packaging must fall within ASTM standard limits of toxicity for arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, and other metals, and must not inhibit the growth of plant matter when compared to similar soil. While compostable materials present great promise, not all parts of the U.S. have access to industrial compost systems2.

Lumi follows compostability standards using the higher temperatures of industrial compost systems rather than the relatively low temperatures of home compost piles, meaning that many compostable products are difficult to compost at home. The U.S. standard for testing compostability is ASTM 6400 and the EU standard for testing compostability is EN 134324.

C
Recovery

At the end of a product's life, some materials can be recovered or disposed of to minimize environmental impact.

Why choose it?


Companies often opt for compostable options as material alternatives to plastic which does not break down naturally. Instead of sticking around for generations, properly processed compostable materials break down and return valuable nutrients to the soil.

Top 10 US States by Weight of Compost

Why not choose it?


Companies may not choose compostable packaging because their customers don’t have access to proper composting. Access to industrial composting isn’t universal, and backyard composting is labor intensive and might not reach the heat necessary to break down many certified compostable materials.

A lot of compostable packaging is designed to look and feel like traditional plastic, giving consumers design cues to throw these items into the recycling stream rather than compost them.

Frequently asked questions

It depends on how the material is disposed. If landfilled, compostable materials decomposing in an anaerobic environment can produce methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Other compostable materials are fiber based and can be easily recycled. Furthermore it’s important to consider the environmental impacts of the material production and transportation.

Yes. Compostable implies stricter rules on soil health, meaning that the product can’t break down into anything that would inhibit plant growth.

The Biodegradable Product Institute’s Certified Compostable Label denotes that a product meets US ASTM 6400 standards.

Compost or recycle when applicable. Landfill should be a last resort.