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Archive for the ‘Compostable Products’ Category

Hello Gardeners and Growers! I am back after a long hiatus. Where have I been for the last few years? Well, helping our family business grow and grow (just like all the plants and veggies we help flourish with our all-natural soil and compost products!). I am going to be writing all new blogs and providing great information about composting, gardening, growing, and all things green on our all new blog, THE SCOOP. You can find our blog on the bottom of our new website, fullcirclecompost.com. Please come take a look.

Come on over and visit the all new Full Circle Soils & Compost with awesome composting information and products!

Come on over and visit the all new Full Circle Soils & Compost with awesome composting information and products!

I hope you enjoy the Full Circle Soils & Compost revamped brand. This is the first season we’ve rolled it out and our business is taking us to new places every day. The distributors and retail stores we’ve teamed with continue to relay kind customer comments regarding our all-natural growing products and we couldn’t be more tickled. Whether you’re a new customer just discovering the power of our enviro-friendly products, or a seasoned user continuing to be impressed with the gleeful response from your plants, we’re happy to have you on-board.

Happy Growing!

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Full Circle Compost took in the compostable materials, including compostable items such and cups and utensils, from three different Earth Day events in Northern Nevada. Full Circle then processed these materials in a separate compost windrow to see how the materials would break down. The following video shows the end result after a 3 month composting process.

There are many factors that go into the process of composting materials that are deemed compostable. Each product has its own temperature rating and break down process. However, the point we are trying to make is that the compost should not adapt to these new products but that the products should be adapting to the established composting processes.

Full Circle Compost prides itself in a process that yields some of the highest quality compost on the market. Most of these items can be broken down in processes that get hotter and for long periods of time. However, our process is designed to make amazing soil amendments and products and not designed to solely break down and eliminate compostable products. We are not a garbage company but a compost company trying have our customers grow the biggest and best gardens possible.

The row was made on May 17th, 2011 and the screening was completed on August 9th, 2011. The temperatures held consistently over 130 F for almost the entire cycle with the highest temperature reaching 155 F. This row was turned less than our normal process but this was in attempt to create higher temperatures to build in the row to help break down the products.

Some of the products in the video have broken down in our process before and this leads us to question changes in manufacturing processes of the products. In general, this is not a pure test of these materials but a general understanding that allowing diverse compostable products into your materials stream prior to testing them can be hazardous.

Upon talking with the BPI who is in charge of the labeling of many compostable products, the key for any composter is to know what products work in your process and what products do not. There are many products that break down in our aerobic composting system and other that we steer far away from. The point of this video is to show the work case scenario upon trying to compost materials labeled compostable.

We view there should be more integration and communication among composters to get the message out about what is compostable and what is not. We did not include the compostable product names because further investigation is being carried out. Hope you enjoyed the video.

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So, I attended another event where compostable products were being missused. At the event, food and beverages were being served in a compostable product line supplied once again by ECO Products. The items were all over the event but all the item were being thrown into the garbage to head to the landfill rather than being sorted to composting! This caused me to wonder, do regular people even notice the misuse of compostable products?

Perhaps I am just an odd individual but the use, sale, and marketing of compostable products across our nation is a crazy and confused industry. Here are some of my pet peeves with compostable products.

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Here is an official food waste composting training video from Full Circle Compost in Northern Nevada.

This video highlights lists of acceptable and non-acceptable materials to composting programs that accept food waste and other organic materials from businesses, organizations, the family home, or zero-waste events. Waste diversion is gaining popularity across the United States and the necesity for a standard list of acceptable materials to composting programs is now necessary. This is the first video of many that will highlight the main concerns that composters are having with food waste and zero-waste composting and allows participants to gain a first hand perspective of what a composting facility actually goes through after the materials are received at composting sites.

The lists in this video are based upon those lists used in the San Francisco and bay area composting programs. These programs have become the leaders in the composting of food waste materials on the west coast and are a good starting point for any business, orgainization, or family that is interested in begining food waste or zero-waste composting. Following the acceptable and non-acceptable lists is very imporatnt in creating an efficient and effective waste diversion program.

The video is a little long but the information is very important. Please contact WEcycle Consulting with any question or conerns at wecycleconsulting@gmail.com or write a comment on this blog. Remember, sorting your materials first allows the composter to more effective,y process the materials after they have been received at the composting site. Contamination of compostable materials is the number one concern for all composters participating in these types of programs. Please help your local composter by sorting your organic materials correctly and taking the time to do your part to help save our world. Thanks.

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Baja Fresh Really Green??

So I was eating in good ol’ Baja Fresh in Reno today and once again was bombarded with the “green” efforts of another nation wide food chain. However, the question arises, IS BAJA FRESH REALLY GOING GREEN?

Many online articles state exactly the changes that have been going on within the company to change their corporate culture to the green culture. Here is an article that states exactly the changes that have been made.

In casually reading this article or going to Baja Fresh and eating, the “green” changes are evident. They have implemented green standards revolving around the use of compost able products and greener product packaging to help the environment. This is where the problem emerges once again. Yes this corporation may be buying packaging products that help the environment because they are made from less environmentally harmful materials, aka not petroleum based and or made from recycled materials. However!!! WHO CARES IF IT ALL GOES TO THE LANDFILL ANYWAYS!

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So here we have a great example of the difference in compostable products among manufacturers. Many products may be compostable; however, the degree of the ease of compostability and the rate at which the products decompose varies dramatically.

 

Side by side examples of two different compostable product manufacturers

 

As you can see from this dramatic picture. There is a large difference in compostable packaging. This picture shows two loads of food waste coming to the Full Circle Compost site in Carson City, Nevada. Both loads are a one week cycle coming from two different locations in the area. Both are food waste materials inside compostable bags with more compostable products inside. As you can see, there is a large difference in the breakdown times of the materials. The first load on the left is already beginning to break down where as the other load is completely intact.

Both loads are full of compostable materials and products; however, it is easy to see that not all compostable products are the same. Some breakdown much quicker than others. For the composter, those items that break down on their own, such as the products on the left, are a wonderful thing. For the food service industry, fast break down means less durable products and may not be the best of situations. The key is finding the balance of durablility to breakdown.

Each compostable product, be it a cup or a bag, is made up of different materials. Some are corn-based while other potato. Some are mixed with talc and other materials for durability. Currently there is so much variation in the industry that there is not much consistency among products. All products are sent out to testing facilities and composting sites to see if they break down; however, there is also so much inconsistency among composters, that a product that broke down in one facilities process may not break down in another. This is the cause for so many problems in the food waste composting arena. The best way to know if a compostable product is compostable is to test it yourself (ie for an industrial composter to get their hands on it).

Full Circle Compost sees all different types of compostable products all the time. The load on the left is a great load to receive because they know they will have no problem with the materials breaking down properly and not contaminating the compost. The load on the right must be processed more and causes more problems. One day all things will be consistent in the food waste composting world.

 

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(Disclaimer: I will be calling out companies and organizations directly only to show what can be changed and how we can change it. I believe that compostable products are much better then petroleum based plastics and should be used in anyway possible; however, more must be done to separate these products and get them to composters rather then landfills. There must be more responsibility held by companies using compostable products rather then just using the marketing benefits and misleading consumers.)

Here is where the blog is going to get intense. Lets talk about the plethora of companies that are supposedly going “green” by using compostable products. This is not meant to start bad blood but to make the point that many companies are using the idea of “green” purely as a marketing campaign when in reality is hardly “green” at all!

We have already talked a little about compostable products and as consumers, I know everyone has seen the onslaught of compostable packaging and materials that companies are using to say their organizations are going green. This is great that companies are using compostable materials because their carbon foot print and material make up is much better for the environment than plastics and other materials. HOWEVER, IF THESE COMPOSTABLE PRODUCTS ARE NOT GOING TO A COMPOST SITE…WHAT’S THE POINT!

 

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