FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions)
What does biodegradable mean?
By definition, biodegradable is a broader term for the ability of a substance to be broken down by microorganisms. Substances may biodegrade within a short time-frame (e.g. less than 30 days) or may break down eventually (ie. hundreds of years).
How is it different from compostable?
Many plant and animal products have the potential to biodegrade into toxic substances. Compostability is associated only with positive biodegradation and the capacity of a substance to biodegrade in a managed process to produce useful compost within 180 days.
How long do compostable products take to degrade?
Compostable degradation is dependent on the product material and the conditions of the compost environment. Many compostable products are designed to degrade in a commercial composter within 60-180 days (2-6 months). Products tend to take longer to degrade in a backyard composter because of the varying compost conditions and the varying degrees of maintenance. For example, our Fibreware products can often break down in less than three months even in home composters, while our PLA products break down in about 6 months in a commercial composter and over a year in a home composter.
Can the products be backyard composted?
Our Fibreware is perfect for backyard composting! Worms love it! Cellulose products are also backyard compostable and will even degrade in water. Our PLA products and other bio-plastics are typically recommended for commercial composters. Most bio-plastics require optimum compost conditions to completely break down, and therefore, they are not recommended for backyard composting.
Why should you support compostable products even if they are not all being composted?
We believe that composting needs to be a regular option for packaging disposal, though in some situations, we know that composting is not viable. Plant-based, compostable products are one step towards a larger imperative to improve disposable products and their life cycles. Compostable packaging creates new options for both production and disposal over the long term and we think that creating choices will help push the industry to improve packaging sustainability overall. The use of plant based products will also reduce the reliance on petroleum based plastics, which currently dominates conventional packaging options.
What is the price difference between compostable products and traditional ones?
Depending on the product, compostables can be two to four times more expensive than traditional products. The price difference has the potential to decrease over time through economies of scale and increased petroleum-plastic prices.
What plants can be made into bio-plastic compostable products?
Almost any high starch plant can be used to make bio-plastic, but corn is the most popular. It is also possible to make compostable products with potato, rice, and sugar beets.
Do corn bio-plastic products contain any genetically modified (GM) corn?
When BSI first started to source and distribute compostable products there was an assurance from our providers that all corn-based bio-plastics were GM free. After a couple of years, as demand increased, the assurance was dropped and GM corn now infiltrates the market in quantities that are difficult to regulate. It has been very difficult to find PLA (a type of bio-plastic) products made from GM-free corn without a high price premium.
Does BSI have a policy regarding social responsibility?
BSI is currently developing a formal corporate code of social responsibility, to guide our operations and our growth as a company. Wherever possible, BSI chooses manufacturing partners that have a commitment to social responsibility. Some of our North American partners have a commitment to social responsibility by working with and for charitable organizations. The contributions are astounding, and BSI is proud to support their efforts! In the global community, our international partners pay competitive wages, employ only adults, provide clean factory conditions, offer optional overtime, and always take time off to enjoy the national holidays. At BSI, our goal is to provide products that work - for the client, the environment and our communities.
Can BSI ship products to me?
Yes! We work with a number of local, national and international commercial shipping companies that are able to ship products directly to your door. If you have a preferred shipper, just let us know and we will make it work for you.
Can I order products that are not listed?
Yes! With our manufacturing partners, BSI is able to design and create custom packaging for your business. We've helped design compostable packaging options for both food and non-food items. Let your customers know that you are a leader in sustainability. It will be worth the investment! Please contact one of our sales reps for more details.
What is greenwashing?
Put simply, greenwashing is a marketing strategy that aims to mislead consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service. It was coined by environmental activists to describe corporate efforts to portray themselves as environmentally responsible in order to mask environmental wrongdoings. Corporate efforts to greenwash have diversified and proliferated as more consumers demand a greener marketplace. The act of greenwashing now refers to all corporate activities that mislead consumers through instances of environmental reporting, event sponsorship, the distribution of educational materials and the creation of front groups. Regardless of the strategy employed, the main objective of greenwashing is to give consumers and policy makers the impression that a company is taking the necessary steps to manage its ecological footprint. As a consumer it is very important to be informed and make educated decision while shopping for products and services. A great resource for greenwashing can be found at http://sinsofgreenwashing.org/. This site can help you become aware of the seven most common sins of greenwashing and how to spot them.
Our goal is to help businesses become leaders in sustainability and create a healthier environment for everyone. At BSI, we think it is important that biodegradable products work not only for the environment, but for your business. We are happy to assist you with your sustainable choices in food service supplies.
Thank you for your interest in BSI Biodegradable Solutions!
...because disposable products shouldn't last forever...
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