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.