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How Long Till it’s Gone?

A bagasse bowl at three stages of biodegradation
A Sugarcane Bowl before composting and at two stages during the composting process

We often get asked: ‘How long do your products take to break down?’

The Quick Answer
All of our products are compostable and will break down in roughly 2 – 12 weeks in composting conditions.

The Long Answer
It depends. Mostly, on what a product is made from, and where it ends up.

Try this quick thought experiment: Imagine different biodegradable things – say a newspaper, a pizza and an apple. And then imagine how each would start breaking down if left in different conditions for a week. What would happen if they were outside in the rain, or under a hot sun, or on a shelf in the fridge?

We’ve all experienced how some materials (like paper) get soggy and fall apart in water, while others react more like a duck’s back. And we know some things will wilt or dry out in the sun. And that breakdown slows down in cold temperatures.

So it is with our products.

How fast they break down will depend on what the material is, and the moisture, heat and oxygen present.

And, there’s one more crucial factor: the presence of tiny microscopic organisms (aka microbes), like bacteria and fungi.

Microbes do much of the heavy lifting when it comes to breaking organic materials down. And they’re the main reason we keep food in the fridge – they’re less active in the cold. Microbes are present everywhere, particularly in healthy soil.

And when you want to find a large amount of good microbes, nothing beats composting.

Composting: The Best Solution

Composting creates optimal conditions for breaking down organic materials. These conditions are moist and warm with plenty of oxygen – all ensuring there will be plenty of good microbes present.

Mix your Greens with your Browns

The basic recipe for creating optimal composting conditions is mixing carbon-rich ‘brown’ materials, which tend to be dry, with nitrogen-rich ‘green’ materials, which tend to be moist. This creates balanced conditions in which organic materials break down very quickly.

Moisture + heat + oxygen = all influence how quickly a product biodegrades.


Size Matters

The final factor that affects how long products take to break down is the size of the compost pile. Larger piles have more microbial activity and generate more heat, thus products break down faster. Large-scale composting (also called Industrial composting) breaks products down much faster than home composting for this reason.

Composting turns waste into nourishment for the soil, in a perfect waste-free loop.

This is why composting is such an ideal solution for organic waste, and what we always recommend for our products – and all organic waste. When we use biodegradable materials and composting, we create a waste free system.

Our vision is a South Africa in which all organic waste is diverted from landfill and recycled via composting, or another organic recycling method.

That way, our products will not only break down as quickly as possible, but will also return valuable nutrients to soil.

We’ve run lots of composting trials on our products. You can read more about some of those here, and here, and here.

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