There is no such thing as sustainable plastic, regardless of whether it's marketed as compostable, biodegradable or plant-based. In some cases, compostable and biodegradable plastics actually exacerbate the problem of plastic pollution because they only degrade under very specific circumstances.
Most compostable plastic sold in Australia is designed to be broken down in an industrial composter, not a backyard compost bin. The issue here is access to industrial composting facilities, which varies not just state-by-state, but between local councils.
Because of the confusion around its disposal, most compostable plastic in Australia ends up either in landfill or as pollution in our environment. When it enters landfill, compostable plastic behaves the same way as traditional plastic, making it just as harmful. As litter in our natural environment it can last years, and will only break down if exposed to the right combination of elements. And when incorrectly disposed of as recycling with other soft plastics it can compromise the entire process, effectively rendering the batch of recycling redundant.
From a manufacturing perspective, compostable and biodegradable plastics rely on synthetic additives and plastic resins. Any plastic product that requires a level of waterproofing cannot be 100% compostable.
So while compostable and biodegradable plastics may be great marketing tools for businesses looking to claim sustainable practices, they pose multiple problems of their own. They are not the solution to the plastic problem - they are simply an extension of the problem.
Simply put, plastic is plastic. And there's no such thing as sustainable plastic.
At WØRKS, we're proud to operate a plastic-free business model. All of our products - including refills - are housed in reusable glass vessels. From manufacture to post-consumer, glass is the most sustainable option for personal care packaging.