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A recent study by Wageningen University & Research (WUR) shows that some biodegradable plastics such as PLA degrade faster in an industrial composting plant than orange and banande peels. These plastics fall apart within a maximum of 22 days.
Editorial office / Wageningen

The project was commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (EZK). The aim of the study was to investigate whether compostable plastic products disintegrate quickly enough to be suitable for the current Dutch processing methods for organic waste.

The study tested nine compostable plastic products with EN13432 certification: organic waste collection bags, plant pots, tea bags, coffee pads, coffee capsules and fruit labels. After the first waste treatment cycle of just 11 days, the PLA plant pot was completely disintegrated. This is considerably faster than most organic matter, such as orange and banana peels. The PLA tea bag also fell apart successfully within 22 days. After the normal composting process, no residues of biodegradable plastics could be found in the compost.

Unfortunately, it is difficult for composters to see if and how quickly plastic in organic waste is biodegradable. They therefore remove all plastic residues and incerate them. Nevertheless, François de Bie, chairman of the European Bioplastics (EUBP) trade association and marketing director of PLA producer Total Corbion, is pleased with the research results: “It proves that certified compostable plastics actually deliver on their promise. That is important for all stakeholders involved in organic recycling, whether it is waste managers, industry or legislators. “