Environmental Information

Compostable: An Important Definition

Although terms like: biodegradation, biodegradable, and compostable are becoming more common, they are often used incorrectly, and sadly, are often used for greenwashing. Almost everything is biodegradable with enough time (which may be thousands of years), but this is not the same with the term ‘compostable’. Although you will see products claiming to be 75% compostable or highly compostable or similar, this in practice, means they are not compostable. In these products, the percentage that cannot be composted will contaminate the entire composting process. For a product to be compostable, it must be fully or wholly compostable. Fortunately there is a standard that can help us to understand if a product is wholly compostable.

The European EN 13432 standard defines the characteristics a material must have for it to be ‘compostable’. In other words, that the product can be recycled using this special form of treatment. A definition of the criteria for composting is important because materials that cannot be composted (traditional plastics, glass, materials containing heavy metals etc) will have a negative impact on the final quality of the compost and make it unusable. This standard is a reference point for manufacturers, public authorities, composting operations and consumers. Australia has a similar standard AS 4736-2006 : Biodegradable plastics – Biodegradable plastics suitable for composting and other microbial treatment. New Zealand is in the process of creating a similar standard.

According to EN 13432 the following conditions apply for materials to be compostable

Biodegradation: i.e. the metabolic conversion of the material to carbon dioxide
Disintegration: i.e. breaking up and disappearing into the final compost (absence of visible contamination)
The material shall not have any deleterious impact on the composting process
Low occurrences of heavy metals (under specified maximum levels) and the absence of deleterious impacts on the final compost

Each of these points is necessary for defining whether a material is compostable, but one point alone is not sufficient for claiming that the product is compostable.

Little & Brave nappy components meet both the European and Australian standard and make a positive contribution towards the final compost. The biodegradable outer cover and inner fluff pulp provide organic matter while the SAP provides water storing granules, which can improve soil structure and moisture levels.

You will find SAP in the more expensive potting mixes at your local plant nursery. Soiled nappies also contribute a host of nutrients to the final compost, including nitrogen, which helps plants to grow.

Why should we commercially compost?

Commercial composting provides the optimum conditions for naturally occurring micro-organisms to convert organic waste materials into rich organic soil additives. This recovers valuable nutrients which aid plant growth when applied to soils.

Compost enhances soil structure, contains good moisture conservation properties, reduces the development of soil borne diseases in plants, reduces our dependence on pesticide and synthetic fertilizer usage and also reduces a community’s demand for landfill capacity.

Organic waste in landfills results in the emission of green house gases into the atmosphere. By composting organic waste, which would have otherwise gone to landfill, it is converted into a saleable product and at the same time reduces the amount of green house gases emitted.

Commercial Composting runs at very high temperatures for a specified number of days which kills off any potential pathogens and bacteria that may be found in soiled disposables, making this method of disposable far more hygienic than dumping in landfill.

How long will it take for Little & Brave Eco Nappies to compost in a commercial compost facility?

Our nappies will compost at the same rate as other organic matter i.e. in one compost cycle at commercial compost facilities.

Can you compost conventional nappies?

No. Polyethylene and polypropylene are non-compostable plastics. All other disposable nappies are made using these plastic materials. This means that they are not suitable for composting. Conventional disposables will contaminate the final compost with visible bits of plastic and make it unusable. Please do not send conventional nappies to a commercial composting facility.

How much time will it take for Little & Brave nappies to degrade in landfill?

Our long-term goal is that all of our nappies will be diverted from landfill, but we understand that this will not always be possible or practical for our customers.

If our nappies do end up in landfill like all other disposable nappies, then our nappies are made from more renewable materials which are more likely to biodegrade over time if conditions allow.

How long anything takes to degrade in landfill will be subject to the conditions of that specific landfill.

Creating a Circular Economy

Conventional Disposables in a Linear Economy

Little & Brave Eco Nappies create a Circular Economy