THE HAZARDS OF USING COMPOSTABLE BAGS IN THE HOTBIN!
After two recent customer enquires we thought we should post a reminder on why you should not use compostable bags in the HOTBIN.
One of our HOTBIN cafe customers has been collecting food waste from the kitchen in compostable bags and loading these straight into the HOTBIN. The other a Yurt Holiday Camp Site has been adding bagged humanure from their dry toilets into HOTBIN.
Both have has issues with low temperature and high odour – not what we want in the HOTBIN!
CAN I ADD COMPOSTABLE BAGS (USED TO LINE FOOD WASTE KITCHEN CADDIES) IN THE HOTBIN?
We do not recommend adding the compostable bags in to the HOTBIN.
We need to be clear: these bags are compostable and do biodegrade in the HOTBIN, in fact they will degrade very quickly, in our tests at 60 C they broke down within 30 days – which is per the manufactures specification and the various biodegradability tests).
Why we advise against using them in the HOTBIN is that they prevent effective aeration of the food inside the bag. The bag “seals” the contents from airflow. The food inside the bags decomposes anaerobically during the first 1-10 days before the bag itself degrades. You end up with a mushy smelly mess. Very quickly the bags of mush compress and form an impervious layer – the whole bin starts to cool and go anaerobic. As the temperatures falls the bag decomposition slows – you end up with HOTBIN that needs completely emptying and the bags separating out – a very stinky and unpleasant job.
You can of course tip the waste out of the bag, scrunch up or shred the bag and then add it to the HOTBIN. The bag will now decompose without affecting aeration of the whole bin. (In our opinion – this defeats the objective of using the bag! If you want to keep your caddy clean and tidy, try a paper bag or 4 sheets of paper to make a lining. You can empty the paper and food straight into the HOTBIN.
WHAT OTHER NAMES ARE USED FOR THE BAGS?
Compostable bags, Biobags, biodegradable bags, PLA, PLA-Starch, Corn-Starch and a whole range of trade names
Large scale industrial composting (eg Local Authority Composting Sites) do not experience similar issues with compostable bags as all waste (including compostable bags) is shredded before adding to the composting plant).