Saycoffee's coffee capsule is made from grains, oilseeds and plant fibers. Whereas the inside it packed with delicious coffee. In an age of focus on sustainability and recycling, many consumers are looking for alternatives to plastic. Bioplastic or compostable plastics are some of the alternatives that are gaining ground right now. Get to know what's up and down the plant-based type of plastic. We have tried to break it down as simple as possible.
The conventional / old way of producing plastic.
‘Ordinary’ or conventional plastic is produced using oil or natural gas as a raw material. It is estimated that 90% of the plastic we produce today consists of fossil fuels.
Bio-based plastics have been invented to make up with our unsustainable use of fossil fuels. Bio-based plastic is made from biological materials like corn, sugar cane, hemp, etc. This is also called Biomass. Because plastic is always artificially produced by chemical manipulation, nature's microorganisms (bacteria) are not developed to be able to degrade it. A few special bacteria have been found that are capable of degrading plastic, but they are very uncommon in nature and will therefore never be able to cope with the plastic pollution we face.
Biodegradable also called Compostable plastic (Saycoffee’s coffee capsules)
Compostable / biodegradable plastic is plastic that is also made from biological material like corn, sugar cane, hemp, beets, bamboo and straw which can be degradable under controlled conditions. The confusion can arise because the word "bio" is included in both types of plastics, and because the plastic types can not be distinguished from the naked eye. During the production of compostable plastic, special substances are added that allow the plastic to be broken down by nature's microorganisms.
Biodegradable / Compostable plastic is based on plants that absorb CO2 from the atmosphere when grown in the field. Therefore, when the bioplastic is sent off to residual waste, only the amount of CO2 that the plant absorbed when it was grown is emitted. In practice, this means that bioplastics do not emit more CO2 than the plants have absorbed in the field.
Biodegradable / compostable plastic can never be completely CO2-neutral. Energy for growing the plants, transport and producing the bioplastic also counts in the calculation. With bioplastics, however, the atmosphere is loaded with significantly less CO2 compared to ordinary plastic, and many types can be recycled. For every kilo of plastic we recycle, we typically emit 1½ kilo less CO2 into the atmosphere.
Is Biodegradable / Compostable plastic degraded in nature?
Biodegradable plastic cannot be degraded in nature. Biodegradable/compostable plastic must be collected and sent on to a special industrial reposting plants. In Denmark there there is one in Holbæk and Roskilde. These industrial reposting plants can turn the compostable plastic into compost or biogas. Here the material is broken down by the use of elevated temperature, moisture and microorganisms.
Sorting and degradability
Although Saycoffee's coffee capsules are biodegradable, we recommend, for now, that our capsules are sorted for domestic waste also called residual waste together with other household waste and NOT for plastic. With the household waste the coffee capsules are part of the district heating supply also called "Fjernvarme"
Danish industrial reposting plants cannot tell the difference between compostable plastic and ordinary plastic, and therefore they are both sorted out on the assembly line. Saycoffee's capsules must therefore be used in domestic waste, which becomes District Heating (until the right systems are in place in Denmark this is the best solution). Compared to other coffee capsules, ours is far preferable as the combustion does not degrade the environment and counts positively in the overall energy bill. Here, plastic and aluminum capsules are far more harmful to the environment.