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As single-use plastics fall further out of favor among environmentally-conscious consumers and governments, many companies are turning to newer materials that they say will break down in people’s backyard composting bins. But new research reveals that most of these so-called “home-compostable” plastics don’t live up to their labels.

Sixty percent of plastics that are certified for home composting don’t fully disintegrate, according to a study published last week in the journal Frontiers in Sustainability. The research urged consumers to exercise caution when evaluating companies’ claims, suggesting they would be better off sending items to an industrial processing facility.

“[H]ome composting is not at present a viable, effective, or environmentally beneficial waste processing method for compostable or biodegradable plastics in the U.K.,” the authors wrote.

The research paper was the result of a citizen science project called “The Big Compost Experiment,” which — in addition to evaluating the effectiveness of home composti... Read more

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