Frequently Asked Questions

What does biodegradable, biobased, and compostable mean?

Biodegradable occurs when under the right conditions the microbes in the environment can break down materials and use them as food source. It is a process that can take place in many environments including soils, compost sites, water treatment facilities, marine environments and even in the human body. This is the process that converts carbon into energy and maintains life.

In order for plastic to biodegrade they must go through a two-step process:

  1. The long polymer chains are shortened at the carbon-carbon bonds. This process can be initiated by heat, moisture, microbial enzymes, or other environmental conditions depending on the polymer. This step is called "degradation" and you know it is occuring because the plastic becomes weak and will easily fragment. 
  2. The shorter carbon chains pass through the cell walls of the microbes and are used as an energy source. Biodegradation occurs when the carbon chains are utilized as a food source and are fully converted into water, biomass, and carbon dioxide. 

Biobased: materials that are derived in whole or part from biomass resources. Biomass resources are organic materials that are available on a renewable or recurring basis such as crop residues, wood residues, grasses, and aquatic plants. Corn ethanol is a well known example of biobased material derived from biomass resources. 

Biobased product is a product that contains some amount of biobased material within it. The term is typically applied only to materials containing carbon. 

Compostable (or composting) is a process where you can combine yard, garden, and organic (food) waste together and make your own soil building nutrients and plant fertilizer. Home composting is a way for you to speed up the natural process of decomposition and return organic materials to the soil. Yard trimmings and food scraps make up nearly 1/6 of what the average household throws into the garbage, by composting you are reducing the amount sent to landfill. 

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Do Natur-Bag products meet any standards?

Yes, they meet the following:

Natur-Bag and Natur-Ware Approved! 

The Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI), provides an independent certification program for products that meet all requirements of the ASTM D6400 standard.

  • Uses independent approved labs and reviewers
  • Not based upon manufacturers' claims

Natur-Bag and Natur-Ware Approved!

Vinçotte, the European equivalent of the BPI, provides an independent certification program for products that meet all requirements of the European EN13432 standard.

Natur-Bag and Natur-Ware are Approved for Use in Cedar Grove! 

Cedar Grove is the largest compost facility in the US Pacific NW. Cedar Grove mandates all compostable plastics products be evaluated and approved before accepting them in their compost system which requires a 50-day biodegradation window.

Natur-Ware Approved!

The USDA BioPreferred® program specifies the percentage of biobased material in a product or package. This percentage is determined by measuring ratio of carbon-14 (new carbon) to carbon-12 (old carbon) in accordance to ASTM D6866. The purpose of the BioPreferred program is to promote the use of biobased products.

Natur-Ware Approved!

The OK Biobased certification, provided by Vinçotte in Europe, is an independent evaluation of the renewable carbon content in a product. On a basis of the determined percentage of renewable raw materials (% Biobased), the product can be certified as one-star biobased (20% - 40% biobased content), all the way up to four-star-biobased (upwards of 80% biobased content).

The Australian Bioplastics Association (ABA) represents members is promotion and advocacy for member's products, throughout Australia and New Zealand. The Association administers a voluntary scheme for verification of products for members and non-members for compliance to the Australian Standard AS 4736-2006-Biodegradable plastics for composting and other microbial treatment. 

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What is ASTM D6866?

ASTM Method D6866 is the US government approved method for determining the renewable/biobased content of natural range materials, including ethanol additives, bio-diesel additives and biobased products.

ASTM D6866 is recognized by regulars and companies world-wide as a valid tool for quantify the renewable carbon content of biobased products. It is routinely used by companies and organizations would-wide who need to:

  • Validate the renewable carbon content of compounds
  • Re-formulate compounds that previously were entirely petrochemical
  • Validate the renewable claims of raw materials supplies
  • Research and develop alternative products with renewable content
  • Obtain marketing data to support renewable claims
  • Obtain data to support regulatory requirements

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What are the requirements of the ASTM D6400 standard for measuring compostability?

The ASTM D6400 Standard for compostable plastics specifies three criteria for compostability

  1. The Mineralization
    1. ​​At least 90% conversion of carbon dioxide, water, and biomass via microbial assimilation
    2. Occurs at the same rate as natural materials (i.e. leaves, grass, food scraps)
    3. Occurs within a time period of 180 days of less
  2. Disintegration
    1. Less than 10% of test material remains on a 2mm sieve
  3. Safety
    1. No impact on plants, using OECD Guide 208
    2. Regulated (heavy metals less than 50% of EPA prescribed threshold)

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Are Natur-Bag products GMO free?

Yes, because they do not contain any PLA, corn or starches, they are GMO free.

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Do Natur-Bag products contain traditional plastics like polyethylene, polystyrene, or polypropylene?

No, they do not. Neither Natur-Bag or Natur-Ware contains traditional plastics. Traditional plastics such as polyethylene, polypropylene, or polystyrene do not pass the compostability standards. 

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How do Natur-Bag products compare in strengths/usability to PE materials?

The Natur-Bag products are similar in strength when compared to the same mil thickness/gauge or PE materials.

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What is the BPI?

BPI is short for Biodegradable Products Institute. It is a multi-stakeholder association of key individuals and groups from government, industry, and academia, which promote the use and recovery of biodegradable/compostable plastic materials. Visit www.bpiworld.org for more information.

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What is the purpose of the BPI 100% Composting logo?

The BPI composting logo is designed to address the confusion that has existed between truly compostable materials and oxo-degradable plastics by building credibility and recognition for products that meet the ASTM D6400 Standards among consumers, composters, regulators, and others. It is designed to be easily recognizable and able to be placed on the actual product as well as packaging and sales literature.

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What is composting and what are the benefits? 

Composting is the natural breakdown of organic material into rich soil known as compost. Tiny micro-organisms found in the soil breakdown organic matter by consuming it as a food source. Composting organic waste (yard trimmings, food waste, etc) helps to divert organic waste away from a landfill. 

Compost, when added back to land projects promotes healthy plant growth, improves soil moisture retention, amends sandy/clay soils, and improves crop nutrient content.

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What is the proper disposal environment for Natur-Bag?

Natur-Bag products are designed to be fully compostable in a professional or municipal compost facility. These facilities are carefully controlled to maintain the correct balance of moisture, nutrients, and temperature needed for full biodegradation. 

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What is a waste diversion program?

A source separated waste diversion program refers to the successful separation of waste streams. There waste streams include; organics, recyclables and non-organic trash. Each waste stream is collected separated in clearly labeled containers. The collection bin for all organic waste is lined with Natur-Bag compostable bags; this makes the collection process more efficient and hygienic. As additional compostable foodservice products (compostable tableware, cutlery, etc.) are introduced into the facility they can also be collected along with the organic food waste.

The organic waste is collected and hauled by a professional compost facility and the resulting compost can be used for land projects in the community. Source separated waste diversion programs are ideal for large institutions, cafeterias, schools/universities, government agencies, etc.

Waste diversion programs help divert millions tons of organic materials away from landfills, reduce garbage hauling/tipping fees and divert organic waste to a compost facility so waste can be reclaimed for land projects.

Case Study: Organic Waste Diversion in Schools

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Will Natur-Bag compostable products biodegrade in a landfill?

No, nothing will biodegrade in a landfill. Landfills are anaerobic (without oxygen) environments and oxygen is a vital component in the biodegradation process. Without the presence of oxygen, organic matter will slightly degrade, off-gassing methane gass (CH4). Methane is a green house gas 21 times worse for the environment than carbon dioxide (CO2). Any claim of material biodegrading in a landfill should be treated with skepticism since there are no scientific studies that prove organic materials completely biodegrade in a landfill. 

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How do I find a compost facility in my area?

To find a professionally managed compost facility in your area, please visit www.findacomposter.com to search for a facility near you. 

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When will the bags start degrading once I put them in use and leave them at the curb for pick up?

Depends on the situation (environment – temperature, humidity, what is packed inside, etc.). We have seen our bags stand strong with grass clippings for five [5] days, But plan to have material picked up within a week of placing into the bags. 

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How quickly will bags start degrading in a home compost pile?

It depends on the situation (environment – temperature, humidity, what is packed inside, etc.). We have seen our bags stand strong with food scraps and leaves for up to a week. Plan to have material picked up within a week of placing wastes into the bags. We recommend keeping filled bags on paved or dry surfaces if possible. When bagging grass clippings, it is advised to dispose of within a day or two due to the aggressive decomposition nature of enzymes in grass clippings. 

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How quickly will bags start degrading in a commercial/industrial compost facility?

Industrial/commercial compost facilities should see complete assimilation of the bags in 60-75 days. It could go faster/slower depending on the temperature of the pile, frequency of turning, etc.

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How quickly will cutlery start degrading in a compost facility?

Cutlery will require the full 180 days to assimilate in a commercially/industrially run facility. Home compost piles can take 2-3 growing seasons depending on location and maintenance of the pile. 

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What is the shelf life of Natur-Bag?

Natur-Bag has a shelf life of 12 months. Internal studies and experience indicate that if stored in the original packaging and in a cool, dry place our bags will retain strength up to 18 months. 

NOTE: Since Natur-Bag does not contain starch, our bags do not absorb ambient humidity which allows for a longer shelf life than bags that contain starch. 

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