Are Biodegradable Bags a Viable Option for Composting?

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Industry and governmental groups partnered to launch a campaign in Thailand to test the option of composting as an effective means of waste management for the country, utilizing biodegradable bags in the collection of household organic waste in the process.

The pilot program will also serve as a foundation for developing Thailand’s bioplastics industry, which was initially conceived in 2008. Some estimates put Thailand’s potential fertilizer generation capacity in the range of 6 million tons annually, creating a potential export product for the country.

Almost one-third of the waste we produce can be composted and recycled into rich fertilizer. Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911.com

Almost one-third of the waste produced in the U.S. can be composted and recycled into rich fertilizer. Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911.com

As composting programs continue to grow in cities such as San Francisco, broader means of collecting organic waste could be a future challenge.

The use of bioplastic bags could address this issue, and in Thailand, will “further raise environmental awareness and encourage the use of environmentally friendly products as a new social norm,” according to Suchinda Chotipanich, permanent secretary, Ministry of Science and Technology and chairman of the Bioplastics Industry Development Subcommittee.

This is the first time the government has initiated measures like this at the community level.

“In evaluating and developing sustainable options for end-of-life product waste management, we have to remember that landfilling of organic, biodegradable waste generates methane – a greenhouse gas 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide – and composting helps to reduce emission levels of this harmful green house gases,” said Chotipanich.

Jens Hamprecht, head of Global Product Management, Biodegradable Polymers for BASF, the company that created the Ecoflex bags utilized in the pilot, is confident that the project will serve as an example for other programs.

“We believe this project will also be an excellent showcase for other countries in the region which are considering a similar initiative,” he said.

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