Do Compostables Break Down in Landfills?

As the world becomes more eco-conscious, consumers and businesses turn to compostable products as a sustainable alternative to traditional single-use plastic items. Compostables are often praised for their ability to break down, and so, naturally, that should make them a perfect replacement for all plastic, right? Not so fast. 
 
There's a hidden paradox that many people are unaware of: compostables, such as compostable plastics, food, etc., aren’t helpful or stable in landfills as many assume. Instead, as they break down, they mix with other waste materials and chemicals, creating gasses like methane and CO2. This adds to greenhouse gas emissions. Basically, compostables in a landfill may do more harm than good. 
Obviously, you're reading this because you want to create less trash, but we want the non-recyclable and non-compostable trash we create to go to the landfill and stay there. While touring some of our city’s waste facilities last year, I saw firsthand the amount of compostable waste being sent to our landfill each day. I also saw the simple importance of bagging your trash. If you are sending trash to the landfill, trash bags made from recycled plastic are a better option for the waste stream and environment, using much less new or "virgin" plastic than traditional trash bags and without the pitfalls of sending compostable bags to the landfill. Compostable trash bags should be used when that waste can actually become compost.
 

So what can we do to ensure compostables break down and become healthy soil again?  

  1. Compost organic matter and home compostables at home. Local? Check out our Compost Workshop (below) or Nashville's Dirty on Composting video.
  2. Use composting pick-up services like Compost Nashville, Compost Company, and Regener8
  3. Drop your compost off at one of Metro's convenience centers. 

 

Good news, we take out the guesswork.
Did you know we accept all of our compostable items back in-store to compost them properly? Also, as you're browsing our online products, each product page will offer valuable end-of-life info. We tell you if the product is compostable and how you should compost it.

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