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Can I Compost This Plastic Bag?

Over the past few months, customers have likely noticed some of LG's leafy veggies have arrived in new packaging. They come in a translucent bag made from a stretchy, plastic-like material. We are committed to reducing the plastic that goes through our supply chain, for example with our reusable bag scheme (shout out to customers who return them on a regular basis!), and many of our suppliers have taken action too. Where possible, compostable plastic bags are being introduced to deliver your mixed leaves and herbs. So what exactly is compostable plastic made from, how does it work, and why isn't it used for everything?

Plastic is hugely versatile, hence its ubiquitous use and our reliance upon it. Yet, it is notoriously difficult to dispose of, with traditionally produced plastics taking several hundred to 1,000 years to decompose. We all know plastic is part of the current environmental crisis and we should wean ourselves off of its unnecessary use. Traditional plastics are carbon-based polymers usually made from petroleum.  Compostable plastics are usually starch based, and therefore starts with a raw material that more naturally degrades. The most common starches for compostable plastics are derived from corn, potato and cassava - all plants that readily grow around the world, rather than the product of invasive drilling or mining practices. Under ideal circumstances, these natural substances will decompose in a matter of months, not years. That's excellent news for the planet. Nevertheless, there are still challenges with using compostable plastics and its strengths can also be its weaknesses.

To fully break down, compostable plastics need to be exposed to light, air and moisture. These are the same factors that can spoil your vegetables, if not stored correctly. That makes compostable plastics not the ideal packaging for long term storage, and certainly not the place for delicate greens on a hot and sunny day. They should, however, stay safe and fresh in your refrigerator. Another caveats to note is that biodegradable plastic is not the same as compostable. Biodegradable means it will break down into smaller compounds, but may still contain petroleum products and chemicals. Be sure to know which plastic you are dealing with before tossing it in the bin. As always, new technologies and products need investment, and our suppliers and farmers do not all have the same resources to switch to compostable packaging at once. When you do receive the occasional real plastic bag, give it a rinse and find a way to reuse and extend its life and usefulness. Local Greens will continue to do its part and pioneer new methods to deliver seasonal veg with less waste. Please join us and continue doing your bit too!

Read on to learn more:
Explain Bioplastics
Worldcentric.org - Compostable Plastics
Ethicalconsumer.org - Facts about compostable bags
How long do biodegradable bags take to decompose?