Biofoil home composting, foil 11-15. Day 59-84 . Almost gone.

Home compostability test of cellulose based foils, almost gone

I am testing the actual biodegradability of Lovechock’s certified home compostable biobased packaging foil in my backyard in Amsterdam.

Day 59, foil 11. Temperature drops.

Still there are many ants in the compost barrel. The temperature has dropped a little bit, but I cannot verify it as there is no thermometer in the barrel. That would be an interesting add-on though… The mass is still quite damp, so the ants may move their larvae anyway. The foil that I extract from the mass is quite clean, to my surprise, and has some small holes in it. Also there is a part missing, that I cannot retrieve.

Biofoil number 11 of home compostability test, after 59 days.

Only the top part of foil number 11 was retrieved from the compost mass after 59 days.

Day 65, foil 12. Flies.

When I open the lid of the barrel, a swarm of tiny flies hives off. The compost feels very wet and I know for sure its temperature has dropped. The ants seem to have moved their larvae. I need to re-establish the balance in the compost however. I realize I have been putting to much vegetable and fruit waste on it, without compensating with high-carbon materials like dry leaves or shredded branches. Also paper is a source of carbons, although you have to be a little bit careful with the inks that are used. It is better to recycle paper into new paper, but to restore the temperature and good balance in the compost it is a good solution to place some used tissue-papers in it and I do so. The beautiful paper wraps of the Lovechock bars may also be used in compost, but it is better to recycle it into new paper.

Retrieving foil 12 from the home compost barrel with a small spade.

Only with a small spade I am able to retrieve foil number 12 after 65 days.

The foil is covered with wet compost that I remove with some water before I can take some pictures.

Biobased packaging foil tested for home compostability, foil 12 after 65 days

After 65 days this is what is left of the cellulose based packaging foil.

 Day 71, foil 13. Degradation for sure, but no smell.

Again I am welcomed by tiny flies, but not so much as before. I still wonder about the lack of smell. There is a lot of degradation going on inside but there is no stench. Carefully I retrieve a foil with a small spade.

Cellulose based packaging foil after 71 days in a compost barrel.

There is not much to dig for in the compost barrel of 71 days of composting. Foil number 13.

I wipe off the compost mass. It is going fast now, the foil has become really thin and it is hard to get the compost off. It is still quite moist inside the barrel, so I place some cut-up ferns on it and plough up the compost a little bit. This should generate some heat.

After 71 days of composting, this is what a cellulose based foil looks like.

After 71 days of composting, this is what cellulose based foil number 13 looks like. You can clearly see that foil and compost are hard to seperate.

Day 77, foil 14. Temperature and ants are back.

The compost’s temperature has risen again. The ants are back too, nice and comfy, and reproducing… I see a lot of larvae, but I rather have a lot of ants in the barrel than a low temperature, so I try to avoid disturbing them as I search for the next foil. They actually do a great job, eating what they need and turning that into fertile faeces. I manage to take out a lump of compost with a foil inside. It almost falls apart when I remove the compost. I really have to proceed with utter care not to tear it apart completely. I realise that I would probably not have found any remnants of it if I would have just put it inside the compost and ploughed the compost every once and a while, like I would normally do. Now it has been sitting in the same spot for 77 days. I take some pictures, probably some of the last ones that I will be able to take…

Home compostability of biofoils, this one has been in the compost barrel for 77 days.

This foil was inside the home compost barrel for 77 consecutive days. It is almost complete degraded.

Day 84, foil 15. Cleaning with water

It gets harder, but I manage to extract a foil. It is almost gone, nothing more than a little lump, more compost than foil, so I decide to cleanse it in a layer of water. That helps a lot! When the foil is floating in the water it becomes clear how thin the foil has become.

Cleaning a cellulose based packaging foil after 84 days in compost.

Only by carefully cleaning it in the sink, foil number 14 reveals itself after 84 days in the compost barrel.

I dry it with some tissue paper. When I take the pictures I place an original foil next to it. Now you can clearly see the difference!!

Biobased packaging foil before and after 85 days of composting.

See the difference before and after 84 days inside the home composting barrel. Foil 15.

I estimate that only one third of the surface remains, in volume however it must be less than a sixth or less. I wish I had a microscope. Sending out a Tweet for help, I instantly get a reply. Next pictures may be taken with a microscope…

Biobased packaging foil after 85 days in compost barrel.

The white background gives a better view on the devastation that the foil has been undergoing for 84 days inside the home compost barrel.

The picture quality is way better when I use a white background, by the way.

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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