How Does Industrial Composting Work?

by Liv McLeod
How does industrial composting work
Let's talk about why we're all so obsessed with piles of half-decomposed trash.
The down n' dirty of it all is that composting is the only thing between us and the world becoming one big floating ball of landfill. Australians discard around 20% off all the food they purchase, not to mention all the non-recyclable plastic waste we create.
By putting these food scraps through compost, and creating plastic that can decompose and be used elsewhere, we're creating a circular economy where nothing is wasted.
If we're ever going to compete with the massive amounts of human waste created each year, we needed to start composting on a mass scale.
Enter, industrial composting. 

How does it work?

While home composting has been around since the Stone Ages and is now a household staple, industrial (or commercial) composting is a newer deal.
Commercial composting does the same thing as home composting, but on a larger scale, and with optimised conditions for decomposition.
And while home composting is fab for garden or kitchen waste, it's not great at breaking down PLA bioplastic products (unless they're certified home compostable, like our Ecomailers). Industrial composts take these kinds of products, as well as scraps like meat and fish that might make your compost smelly.
Inside an industrial composting facility, the soil is the exact same as a home compost. The only difference is that a lot of factors are regulated, making it ideal for breaking down the tougher stuff.

Where does my green bin go at night?!

One big problemo with kerbside composting in Australia is that it's not homogenised. When the green bin scheme began rolling out country-wide, it was left in the hands of individual councils to decide how and what to compost.
And with only 150 commercial composting facilities across the whole of Australia, of course not every council is able to take your prosciutto scraps and bamboo plates to the composting mecca.
This means that unless they're situated near one of these golden facilities, councils need to develop their own ways of dealing with green bin waste.
Which affects what they're able to take.
Which could mean that while someone a few suburbs away from you might be able to Kobe compostable coffee cups into their green bin, you can't.
All this means that a lot more onus is put on the consumer to read their council website, and take extra special care with what they're putting in their green bin.

What should I do with my industrially compostable plastic?

Believe us: industrially-compostable plastics are always better than plastics destined for landfill.
However, the next time you buy industrially compostable plastics, you'll need to consider a few things.
Sometimes, when a plastic is industrially compostable, it means that it cannot break down anywhere else. Not even in landfill.
If you purchase one of these plastics, check with your council if your green bin can take it. Visit their website, or check here.
If not, you'll need to find a commercial composter near you. You can do that here.
Want to start your own compost, or don't own a green bin? You can also:
  • Join ShareWaste, a community-based composting network that connects people with composters
  • Read our blog on how to set up a home compost here.

Seems like a lot of leg work...

It is! But I'd still prefer my waste turned into beautiful, nutrient-rich compost that can be used to fertilize gardens, farms, and more.
And while it's currently a work in progress, consider this: we'll eventually be able to kerbside industrial compost.
We're talking about a future where all our organic waste can be transformed into something useful right at our doorstep.
The future of industrial composting is looking bright (and green). Let's do our part to reduce waste and promote sustainability, one banana peel at a time.

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