Biofoil home composting, foil 5-10. Day 25-55. Degradation.

Biobased plastic foils in home compost test, results after one month.

The cotton ropes have degraded and the test had to be reinstalled with plastic coated wires. Results after one month.

I am checking the real biodegradability of Lovechock’s cellulose based packaging foil, in my backyard.

Day 25, foil 5.

All the cotton ropes have degraded. They all break when I carefully try to pull a foil out of the compost. There is no other solution than retrieving them with a small spade and rebinding them with plasticized iron wire. I am surprised the compost doesn’t smell at all. I find a whole colony of ants running all over the place frantically. Luckily I can retrieve all but three of the foils. Some are already decomposing. I also find the PLA foil of the supermarket, of course there is no change to be seen there. PLA will only degrade in an industrial composting installation. Lovechock’s cardboard wraps are also still in good shape, although a bit moist. When I unfoil the foil to take a close-up picture, I break a little whole in it without applying any force. The foil is definitely decomposing slowly.

Biobased plastic foil number 5 from the home composting test.

This is the fifth foil of the home composting test, you can see the whole that was very easily made.

Day 32, foil 6, One month.

It is a month now since I started this reality check. When I pull out foil number 6 it is totally covered with compost. I have to wash it off before I can take a picture. When I dry it with some tissue I notice how brittle the foil has become.

Biobased plastic foil number 6 in home composting test

Cellulose based foil number 6 is taken from the test on day 32.

Day 36, foil 7, Breakthrough

I pull out a lump of compost, it is stuck to the foil and the iron wire. When I carefully remove it I find out that the foil has broken into three parts. This is a break-through, not only literally. Very carefully I remove the remaining compost, place the foil flat on the board and make a picture. Not a very good one, I’m afraid.

When I archive the foil I notice it has dried to the air completely. What a difference that is compared to the original foil! It is already much thinner and very brittle, almost like caramelised sugar.

Cellulose based foil number 7.

The seventh foil has fallen into several peaces and feels very brittle. It was taken out after 36 days.

Day 46, foil 8

It is 10 days since I took out the last foil. I hope there is still something left to be seen. Well there is. I am able to get hold of a damp foil. There all kinds of small creepy bugs on it. They do a good job, I guess, as the foil seems to have been attacked by them around the edges. After some time they all leave their treasure and hurry away so I can take a ‘clean’ picture. Actually the pictures are getting a bit nasty now, with all that compost sticking to it. However, I dare not remove all of it as the foil would probably damage and I don’t want that.

Biobased foil number 8, day 46 of home compost test.

Cellulose based foil number 8 was taken after 46 days from the home compost test.

Day 49, foil 9

This time I take out a foil after only three days. Again many bugs and some ants. When I remove some of the compost I notice the foil is fallen apart in several pieces. Like an archeologist I carefully wipe off the remainders of the compost using some water, this helps. It is hard to tell why the foil has fallen apart. The effort it takes to remove the compost from it is a good indication that the celluloid based foil is actually degrading now.

Home compost test of biobased foil number 9 after 49 days of composting.

After 49 days of being inserted in the home compost barrel, this is what remains of foil number 9.

Day 55, foil 10, Ants.

The ants transformed my compost barrel into an ant kingdom. They are frantically running about with cocoons filled with larvae. Of course having ants in the barrel is no problem at all, but it makes it harder to find and retrieve the foils. I decide to give them an impulse to move to another area in the garden and add just a little water to the compost and leave them alone. Ants don’t like a wet nest so hopefully they will take their stuff and move elsewhere. The foil that I retrieve is compressed and it seems to be missing a part of it as it is quite small. I wonder if I will see the ants again next time…

Biobased plastics home composting check, foil 10, day 55

The remnants of cellulose based foil number 10 after being in the compost barrel for 55 days.


Written by Jop Timmers

Jop is the founder of Design for Good, experienced product designer, innovation manager, author, sustainability expert, was trained as a C2C design consultant in 2009 and was a part time product design teacher for 9 years. He is passionate about sustainable and social innovation.

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