Sustainability used to be a buzz word known only to environmental activists and very few progressive companies. Now, it is a widely accepted concept. Most businesses have embraced the sustainable business strategy, using it as an important tool to outperform rival companies or stay relevant in a competitive market.

The use of biodegradable and compostable materials is highly associated with sustainable operation. However, most people are not aware of the difference between biodegradable packaging, biopolymers, for instance, and compostable ones, such as those made by Hero Packaging. Some may even have difficulty defining sustainability itself, despite the popularity of the concept.

What is Sustainability?

In broad terms, sustainability is the development that satisfies the needs of the present without compromising the future. While this amorphous description is true, it leaves a lot of room for interpretation. In a more detailed definition, all the resources people need to survive depend on the natural environment, where humans and nature can coexist to support the current and future generations. It can be attained with the mindful and prudent use of the earth’s resources, from energy to raw materials and fossil fuels.

It is hard to trace back how sustainability started, especially as it has been present in one form or another for many years. But the term was first used in 1972 in one of the earliest global meetings discussing the environment and its conservation. The term found more use in technical reports and policy documents, culminating in 1987 when the United Nations published the Brundtland Report.

What is Biodegradable Packaging?

Biodegradable material can be broken down by bacteria or other living organisms and returned to nature without causing harm. For a packaging material to be considered as biodegradable, it must break down and completely decompose within a year or less.

In contrast, a plastic bag could take 10 to 20 years to break down, while a plastic bottle would take 450 years. At this rate, it is not hard to imagine that plastic could cause serious ecological problems, especially when not disposed of properly.

Biopolymers, natural polymers derived from the cellular and extracellular matter of living organisms, are excellent examples of biodegradable packaging. After use, these materials are usually disposed of in landfills, reducing the buildup of waste and helping clean up the environment.

What is Compostable Packaging?

Some people confuse the term biodegradable with compostable. While they are similar characteristics, a compostable packaging such as Hero Packaging goes one step further than its biodegradable counterpart. Specifically, the composted material provides additional nutrients to the environment after being broken down completely.

The compostable Hero Packaging is made of completely organic, starch-based matter that can be dissolved in water for safe disposal in the form of nutrient-rich compost. But before you do this, it is important to remove the labels and to cut it up into smaller pieces.

What a Sustainable Future Looks Like   

The concept of sustainability is constantly developing and evolving. As the environmental and social climate continues to change, so should the way of doing business. Most companies have taken big strides in improving their impact on the environment, but expectations would still increase. As more companies embrace the bigger accountability, a more circular global economy would be achieved, and the scarce natural resources would cease being so.