Is Molded Pulp Compostable? Why Companies Are Adopting This Trend

Is Molded Pulp Compostable? Why Companies Are Adopting This Trend

8 Feb 2021

Is molded pulp compostable? This is one of the questions drivers in the market ask before choosing packaging material. Molded pulp offers promising results for future targets for the reduction of carbon footprints.

The manufacturing process is simple; it is based on paperboard and newsprint. It is far superior to conventional materials, including expanded polystyrene, vacuumed formed polyethylene terephthalate (PET) polyvinyl chloride.

Unlike synthetic materials, molded fiber pulp is readily available and sustainable as it's made mainly from recycled materials. The production cycle is simple, and even after the boxes are worn out, they are re-integrated into the manufacturing process through recycling.

The manufacturer and consumer have the sole objective of using biodegradable packaging solutions that are low-cost; molded fiber packaging is picking up steam. They come in myriads of shapes and sizes, giving the end-user an array of choices without hurting the environment.

For example, molded fiber pulp is useful for ferrying a wide variety of goods and is not only limited to traditional storage and transport of fragile products and food. The benefits are extrapolated to electronic devices such as TVs, refrigerators, mobiles, and more. These are just a few reasons why the molded fiber pulp packaging industry will continue undergoing exponential growth.

Production costs aside, molded packaging is one of the most lightweight modes of transporting valuable and fragile items.

Then again, is molded pulp compostable? Of course. And apart from being friendly to the ecosystem, it increases channels by which overused and worn-out boxes can be reused and repurposed at their end-of-life stage.

Is molded pulp compostable? Reinventing molded pulp packaging

As the world is steered towards eco-friendly ventures, industry leaders are compelled to make operations sustainable. Ideally, this is a concept centered around increased recycling to implementation of Lean principles. The packaging is one aspect that needs rethinking as market leaders are compelled to answer the question – is molded pulp compostable?

Decades of relying on plastics and foam packing peanuts as the primary solution for most companies necessitated the need to adopt new methods that reduce carbon emissions. Plastic is costlier to produce and will likely end up in a landfill after it outlives its shelf life.

Companies will essentially require packaging for products; however, the difference is that many realize the importance of eco-friendly yet affordable methods. Many companies are now utilizing cheaper but functional molded pulp for all their packaging needs to fill this elusive niche.

The trend of using green sustainable packaging has planted its roots across a number of industries such as medical devices, consumer packaged goods, and electronics. As this is also a cheap, durable, and environment centered process, it is a sustainable option for the long term. Pulp fiber is extremely recyclable from both the consumer and manufacturing fronts and a worthy substitute for plastic or EPS.

Why is molded pulp compostable?

With resource-sufficient facilities, molded fiber products, typically made of recycled paper, waste paper alongside other natural fibers (such as cellulose), and pulp material, are easily compostable and biodegradable. They can also be incinerated without damaging incinerators.

The manufacturing process is watertight, meaning that remnant fiber is channeled for reuse resulting in lossless manufacturing. No toxic or environmental hazards are used in manufacturing.

Paper is biodegradable because it is sourced from wood and similar plant materials that are eco-friendly. Paper is essentially recycled 6-7 times before the plant fibers are broken down too much to be used again.

In normal circumstances, the biodegradation process lasts anywhere between 2-6 weeks before you notice actual degradation, unlike biodegradable plastic, which takes many years to compost.

You may ask, what makes molded paper compostable or biodegradable?

Paper is biodegradable as its raw materials are 100% natural, and like many natural products, degradation is quick to complete.

But is it possible to quicken the degradation process?

Yes, by manipulating your compost bin's conditions, you can increase the speed at which compost material is biodegraded.

Conditions that speed up degradability

  • Heat
  • Humidity
  • Oxygen
  • Rainfall

In the absence of the above conditions, the paper isn't as biodegradable as you'd expect. On the contrary, many landfills are choking with paper.

This doesn't mean the molded paper isn't fully compostable and degradable. Unlike plastics, paper is quickly broken down into its natural elements in the right conditions.

Biodegradable plastic waste is harmful to the ecosystem. Plastic waste is a huge problem both on land and sea, and we don't recommend using biodegradable plastic, even if it is distributed as a biodegradable product.

A composting system speeds up the course of biodegradation and lets you have more control over the process.

For example, adding worms into the mix will hasten the process and enrich the soil with nutrients from the compost. Much like a composting facility.

How can you make biodegradable paper eco-friendly:

First, sustainable packaging materials come from trees, and if more paper is recycled, the need to cut more trees will be avoided.

Secondly, we should be sure the paper used is obtained sustainably, for example:

  • Is the paper sourced from 100% recycled materials?
  • Or, is it made from natural biodegradable fibers?


What's The Verdict?

So, is molded pulp compostable? 100%, unless it gets lined with plastic or processed incorrectly, there'll be no problems with it being compostable.

Natural fibers break down in a commercial composting facility or a home compost pit. It also results in decaying materials that are utilized as fertilizer, enriching the soil. This takes a few months in normal circumstances, but the compost pit's preset conditions make the exact time vary. In some jurisdictions, some policies are fulfilled before packaging is certified compostable.

Molded pulp packaging is being used often nowadays. Industries are using it to protect eggs, personal care products, packaging inserts to hold things in place, and recently, in wine moving boxes. As spirit regulations are loosened across the US, smaller ventures are taking advantage of this product and integrating it into various processes. Mostly used in shipping, molded pulp packaging ensures shipment arrives in one piece. Many makers are using pulp material to save space, reduce shipping costs, and add protection to their shipment.

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