Why Compostable Mailers can be confusing
Everyone is purchasing on-line these days and we are all becoming very environmentally aware buyers. In fact, if a supplier isn't environmentally conscious and offering their customers environmentally friendly choices in their packaging then sometimes you will simply lose a customer as a result. However, supplying compostable mailers or bags aren't as environmentally conscious as you would think. Customer confusion over how to dispose of them is rife, and if they get it wrong it's all for nought anyway.
For a start there are a couple of different Australian Standards levels with regards to compostability and some refer to being Commercially Compostable (AS 4736) whilst others refer to being Home Compostable (AS 5810) - or both. Only the Home Compostable can be dealt with at home. With regards to bags being commercially compostable - well at the moment there are 150 Commerical Composting facilities in Australia, and you'll need to find one of those to properly (and usefully) dispose of your bag. Click here to find a composter.
If an item is Commercially Compostable then it needs very specific conditions in which to break down and these conditions can only be met in commercially created conditions - so an item that is certified AS 4736 can not be added to the home composting bin as it simply won't work.
If an item is Home Compostable then it can be added to the home compost bin and should be completely decomposed within 180 days. But, having said this it's not just as simple as opening the bag with your items and placing it in your compost bin. You need to deconstruct it first. All labels, stickers and tapes and adhesives need to be removed / cut off first. Then it will work better if you cut it up into strips.
The biggest misconception seems to be that people genuinly think that they can either put their compostable bag into the recycling bin (they can not be recycled), or that they can go into their council green bins - which are not compost bins so they cant go there either. If you don't have a home compost then unfortunately they go into the general waste bin where at least they're not adding to issues.