Plastic vs Bio degradable

Many people say they can't go plastic bags free because they use bags to line their rubbish bins but there are plenty of ways to get around the problem with nil.

But are our nil bin liners really any better than your standard plastic bags?

There are so many words that get bantered around and we want to help you understand them to ensure that you are really making a nil waste purchase with us.  Below we discuss the:

  • Difference between Plastic/Degradable verse Bio Plastics
  • Compostable verse Home compostable
  • General certifications, and
  • The limitations to date.

Degradable/Plastic verse Bio Plastics

Plastic = fossil fuel

Plastics are made from fossil fuel and can take up to 1000 to breakdown.  The below notations will be found on plastic items

Degradable Plastic = fossil fuel

Degradable just means that the plastic bag has an additive to help it breakdown quicker but it is still plastic.  There are plenty of products out there that say “eco friendly” or “green” but it really does not mean much. Avoid oxo-degradable and oxo-biodegradable bags. These are plastic bags made with fossil fuels that have an additive which means they break down more quickly than regular plastic bags – into microplastic. These are considered by many to be worse for the environment than regular plastic bags.

Bio plastics (PLA) = plant based

If you want a better option than fossil-fuel based plastic, you need to purchase Bio plastics by nil.

Bio-based - means made from plants, not fossil fuels. Sometimes they are called plant-based, cornstarch or PLA. They are still plastic made from plant material, but not made from fossil fuels.  PLA is a compostable bioplastic derived from plant sugars. PLA stands for polylactic acid. It can be made from any sugar, such as corn starch, cassava, sugar cane, or sugar beet.  Our nil bin liners are made form corn starch.  Some people are concerned about corn being GMO.  GMO corn is an issue in the USA and from USA based products, our corn is sourced from Asia, so it is pure and natural. 

Certified compostable verse Certified home compostable

Certified compostable - means that the product has been tested and is proven to break down in hot composting conditions. However, certified compostable doesn't necessarily mean they will break down in the environment, or in landfills, some require commercial composting at a high temperature. They are just as capable of creating litter and harming wildlife as regular bags. Home compostable bags will however decompose in the natural environment.  They will break down in your home compost bins.  The end product of CO2, H20 and biomass leave no negative effect on the germination and the growth of plants.

Biodegradable material is not necessarily compostable but Compostable material is always biodegradable.  Biodegradable means the products will decompose in a microbial environment. There is no guarantee that it will completely degrade and no guarantee how long it will take to degrade.

General certifications

Our nil bin liner hold the following certifications for the above.

Honest limitations

To date, the NZ Government have released a statement assuring all New Zealanders that they have taken all concerns seriously, regarding Single-use plastic bags and will be phasing out single-use bags that are less than 70 microns including oxo-degradable, biodegradable and compostable by July 2019.

This comes out of the NZ Packaging Declaration pressuring companies to change to compostable or re-usable packaging by 2025.

To date, there is a real lack of commercial composting facilities in New Zealand to be able to compost all bags.  As stated above our bags are home compostable and will break down within 4 months, they will break down in landfills but may take longer as landfills are yet to be set up as true composting facilities.

Now there is some debate that nothing breaks down in landfill, which is true. The microorganisms that breakdown our rubbish require oxygen and there is precious little at the bottom of the rubbish pile.  However, a lot of rubbish blows off the rubbish pile and ends up in nature. Notably, you guessed it, plastic bags. They are light and easily blown away by the wind where they end up in the ocean ready to do their damage.

If you compare the hundreds of years for decomposition of Petroleum based plastics, it is true, PLA may take a while, but it’s still a vast improvement over Petroleum based plastics. And less toxic than Petroleum based plastics if ingested by marine organisms. It’s not perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction.