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Biotre Film and Compost Testing in the Pacific Northwest

Kelle Vandenberg

By Kelle Vandenberg
Director of Marketing & Inside Sales

What does it mean to be socially responsible? Is it owning the world’s problems and trying to fix them, or is it simply doing what we can, within the moment that is ours to command?

None of us can take on all the problems of the world, rather we must become specialists in our field and strive to build a socially responsible future. That is simply the right thing to do.

Our field of specialty is flexible packaging—certainly not as sexy as saving whales or a forest, but we think that assisting in the ability of our food supply to be transported over longer distances in barrier packaging without worry of spoiling and contamination is an important cause.

Biotre film after 101 days in the composter.

Biotre film after 101 days in the composter.

Knowing that a flexible package takes up less room in a landfill and can be reused is a good start, but the challenge for us was this: how do we create a barrier package that protects against oxygen and moisture transmission, and will still biodegrade? Thus began a more than three-year process, with many trials and adjustments, which continues to be redefined as I write this.

We have tested, composted, cupped, and started again, and have been rewarded with a successful launch of our Biotre film in a one pound Natural Kraft Side Gusset Bag in September 2011. Recently, if you have been on our website, you will see a fun, post-launch experiment to see how the Biotre film will biodegrade in just about the worst composting conditions, a Pacific Northwest Winter, with free ranging chickens.

Whoa…did she say chickens? Yep, chickens. How do chickens affect our Biotre Biodegradable Compost Test?

When we ran our biodegradable tests in our labs, the results were solid. The 60% by weight, that is wood pulp, did biodegrade within 90 days, leaving the remaining 40% by weight, to biodegrade within 5-10 years.

Biotre film shown with compost material cleaned off after 101 days in the composter. This sample is shown next to the 12-16oz. Biotre Natural Kraft Side Gusseted Bag (before composting).

Biotre film shown with compost material cleaned off after 101 days in the composter. This sample is shown next to the 12-16oz. Biotre Natural Kraft Side Gusseted Bag (before composting).

In the Pacific NW, average temperatures in the fall/winter range from 40-50 degrees, making composting more of a challenge, but you can successfully compost through the winter, if you have an adequate supply of red worms within your compost pile to help items break down and biodegrade.

In our experiment, we put several strips of our Biotre NK Side Gusset Bag in the compost pile in my back yard. I have 23 free-ranging hens and one rooster…and they all dig into my compost pile, looking for their favorite treat—yummy red worms. Thus, for our test, we were minus a healthy supply of red worms for winter composting.

Despite my hens’ digging diligence, we still had incredible results with our Biotre samples thrown into the compost pile about three months ago. Most of the outer layer is gone, and what remains is the part of the film that will biodegrade within 5-10 years. 

While we haven’t saved any whales, the planet, or even a tree, we believe that we are taking a significant step to define our moment, because it is quite simply, just the right thing to do.