Our Better Bottles and labels are made from a plant-based material that is certified compostable. To be certified compostable, the product must be able to break down in a commercial compost in under 180 days and not contain harmful toxins.
Knowing this, we still wanted to put our bottles to the test and see how quickly they could break down under the right conditions. For The Better Good commissioned Go Well Consulting to test our Better Bottles using a composting system that is 1.2 cubic meters in size, heats up above 55 degrees, and can be implemented anywhere.
In this original test, two bottles were used. The first was cut into 2cm pieces and the other was composted whole. The bottles were then dug up and checked after 5 and 27 days. We decided to include traditional plastic rings to give some perspective on how the different materials break down. Usually, bottles that are returned through our collection system have both the caps and rings individually removed before composting.
After 5 days: The shredded bottle is on the left (in the cage) and what was of the whole bottle is on the board
The individual pieces you can see were described as 'Fragile and Brittle' by Go Well Consulting after just 5 days. There was already significant degradation of the full bottle that was almost completely composted.
After 27 days the bottles were dug up once again. No remains of the bottle that was added whole were found. Below is what was left of the shredded bottle after the 27 days.
The test, which was focussed on the degradation time of our Better Bottles (note: toxicity of the compost was not tested in this trial) concluded that the whole bottle was completely composted in under 27 days which was an incredible result.
For a full walkthrough of this process be sure to head on over to our Instagram highlights.
Since these original tests, we have begun to processes higher quantities of Better Bottles at the same time. Most recently, 100 Better Bottles were added whole to the same hot compost with a temperature of 55 degrees. We dug up the bottles placed in the center after 10 minutes to take a look.
After only being exposed to 55+ degrees for 10 minutes our bottles had already wilted and started to decompose.
After mixing the compost we left the bottles for 4 days before checking on them again. Having originally added over 100 bottles, only the scattered remains of 25 bottles were identifiable. The bottles that were exposed to cooler soil were extremely brittle and would break apart if any pressure was applied to them. We also found that the majority of the remaining material was from the labels.
After 25 days, we were unable to find any remains of the 100 bottles/labels that were originally added to the compost mix!
After only 4 days we could only find a small fraction of bottles that were originally added to the composting mix.