Compostability is a clear benefit when plastic items are mixed with biowaste. Under these conditions, mechanical recycling is not feasible, neither for plastics nor biowaste. The use of compostable plastics makes the mixed waste suitable for organic recycling (composting), enabling the shift from recovery to recycling (a treatment option which ranks higher on the European waste hierarchy). This way, biowaste is diverted from other recycling streams or from landfill and facilitating separate collection – resulting in the creation of more valuable compost.

In order to be suitable for organic recycling, products and materials need to meet the strict criteria of the European norm EN 13432 on industrial compostability. Following successful certification, these products and materials are permitted to be advertised and labelled as ‘compostable’. The Seedling label is a well-known mark for products conforming to EN 13432.

The process of biodegradation under aerobic conditions within a time frame of 6-12 weeks is called composting. Composting of industrial products usually takes place in industrial composting plants, where controlled conditions (e.g. temperature, humidity, aeration) are given. Microbes, like bacteria or fungi and their enzymes, are able to “digest” the chain structure of compostable polymers as a sour