Online database catalogs biodegradable plastics


A new online database developed in an effort to improve composting efficiency gives people the ability to find out long it takes plastics made from organic material to biodegrade.

The Biodegradable Products Institute tested more than 3,000 compostable plastics while developing the custom online database, according to the organization’s website. People can use it to choose plastic items that will break down under the right conditions. Search categories include food services and manufacturers that produce goods made from plastics derived from organic materials, such as thermotransforming resins and sugarcane. The online database includes 140 compostable product suppliers and provides their certification status and contact information.

Online database gives consumers choices

“The new catalog opens up more choices – and more suppliers – to help consumers and businesses replace plastics and make composting more efficient and [less] costly than landfill disposal,” BPI Executive Director Steven Mojo said in a press release.

Users can’t just assume that the material will decay if put out with the rest of the garbage. Biodegradable plastics do break down when composted, but when they are placed in landfills they are just as resilient as materials made from petroleum, according to Mother Jones. In order to decompose efficiently, they have to be placed in an environment where they are exposed to microbes.

In some cases, people with their own composting systems can take care of the disposal problem themselves. Others have to send the materials to a facility that provides the service. BPI’s website includes a link to another online database that lets users find composters by location.