CIRCULAR ECONOMY: clearly explained (part I)

By 2050, we will be living with 9.7 billion people on earth. That means more consumption and therefore more production. But that will put even more pressure on the climate and natural resources. Some suggest that a circular economy offers a way out, but what does that mean in concrete terms? The Compost Bag Company explains it clearly.

What is a circular economy?

In a circular economy, nothing is lost and everything is reused. Instead of taking raw materials from the earth over and over again, the materials from discarded products are reused as raw materials. A circular economy is therefore diametrically opposed to the linear variant, in which products made from newly mined raw materials are discarded at the end of their useful life and the materials they contain are lost.

The features of a circular economy

In concrete terms, goods are designed in such a way that they can be made partly or entirely from recycled raw materials. The consumer then treats the goods with care with a view to maximum functional reuse. In the event of a defect, the goods are initially repaired. If this is not feasible, the materials they contain are recycled as much as possible. Companies then manufacture new goods using recycled materials.

A washing machine, for example, is well maintained, but almost once it breaks down or no longer meets the requirements. Then it will first be repaired or upgraded. If that is no longer possible, then the manufacturer makes new machines with the reusable parts. From the non-reusable parts, the materials are recycled into new raw materials. In this way, waste becomes a (secondary) raw material.

A circular economy is therefore about much more than just recycling. All goods and production processes have to be rethought. Crucial factors include smart design, life cycle extension, reusability, dismantleability for repair and replacement …

What are the advantages of a circular economy?

You are less dependent on imports of raw materials

Europe is a continent with relatively few raw materials and is therefore highly dependent on its imports. But these are not infinitely available: finding and exploiting new sources of raw materials is becoming increasingly difficult, causing scarcity. Moreover, there is also great demand from other parts of the world. Today, there are already 27 materials on the list of critical materials in Europe. These are raw materials that are economically very important, but whose supply is at a standstill. At the same time, we are sitting on a mountain of materials that are present in our waste. In a circular economy, these materials are recycled and reused as much as possible, reducing our dependence on virgin raw materials.

The impact on the climate is reduced

Raw materials are not only becoming scarcer, their extraction is also a heavy burden on the environment. Added to this is the high CO2 emissions for the transport and production of goods. If you use products and raw materials for as long as possible, the energy cost and also the impact on the climate decreases.

New economic activities and more employment

The evolution towards a circular economy also brings with it the demand for new activities and certain profiles. This creates new opportunities for artisans, makers, repairers, sorters, transporters, creative designers, platform developers and much more.

In part II, we look in more detail at the different ways of recycling. Overpopulation puts pressure on the climate and natural reserves. A circular economy offers a way out, but what does that mean in concrete terms?


If there is one issue that regularly finds its way back to our platforms, it is that of the ingredients in our bags. ‘Microplastics’ they scream and yell, but nothing could be further from the truth. ‘What are your bags really made of?’ must be one of our most frequently asked questions. We feel that this question sometimes starts from a sincere interest, but it also happens that there is a strong scent of suspicion in the air.

Greenwashing? No, thanks

‘No plastic’ seems to be a trigger to many to bomb us as liars. The disbelief is great and it shouldn’t be that way. But can we blame them? Today, we can no longer avoid the term ‘greenwashing’. Greenwhat? In simple terms, this means that all kinds of ecological claims are made, which on closer inspection are not correct. For example, it’s not uncommon for shops to sell ‘compostable’ bags that are made of polyethylene (the most commonly used traditional plastic), with a hint of starch added. Clever, but we don’t fall for that.

The pioneer of truly compostable materials

So, what’s really in our bags? No plastic, we can already tell you that. Our main raw material is Mater-Bi from the manufacturer Novamont. They are a pioneer in the field of actual compostable materials. Did you know that all the innovations of the past thirty years come from them? But just like any other big player, Novamont keeps its trade secret. Obviously, because what would you be like if you had discovered the key to sustainability? Their secret is only shared confidentially with the certification institues so that they can in turn check compliance with the EN13432 standard. For example, they classify the absence of heavy metals and eco-toxic substances among them. Furthermore, they don’t lay their secret recipe on everyone else . The company must, of course, protect its know-how, which it has accumulated over a long period of time, from its competitors.

The three major elements

No secrets, we promised. That is why we can explain the three major elements of Mater-Bi. We speak of azelaic acid (C9H16O4), 1.4 butanediol (C4H10O2) and cornstarch.

The first two are components of organic chemistry, which can be obtained both from fossil resources (e.g. petroleum) and from renewable resources. Novamont is the only one to have succeeded so far in developing a biobased (or renewable) supply chain for butanediol based on residual sugars in the pulp of sugar beet. Go, Novamont! Azelaic acid is also extracted from oil from the seeds of the cardoon thistle. Both processes are very sustainable.


Artificial vs. Artificial

Is Mater-Bi a synthetic material? Yes, but in the way that it does not occur in nature. Don’t confuse it with the traditional plastic. They usually come from oil or gas and are not biodegradable. Mater-Bi, on the other hand, comes (for the most part) from nature, as can be deduced from the three building blocks, and eventually disappears back into nature through composting. Mater-Bi does not contain traditional plastic. Otherwise, it would never be labelled ‘OK-Compost’.

So, no microplastics at all?

No, otherwise we wouldn’t be allowed to use the term ‘fully compostable’. To do this, you must be certified with the logo ‘OK-Compost’. In addition, our bags are also certified by independent inspection authorities in accordance with EN13432. And did you know that the dyes and printing tones used, can also be composted fully certified? These too do not contain traditional plastic and therefore do not leave any microplastics behind when they decay.

In industrial composting, our bags decompose very quickly, much faster than -for example- a banana peel or an oak leaf. In home composting, it can take a little longer, because the conditions there are very different. Anyway, in the end our bags ‘return to nature’.

Curious about our compostable bags? You can order them here.




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