Biodegradation & Composting Fairy Tales

The Composting Fairy Tale

Dutch TV program "De Monitor" makes an inquiry into compostable bioplastics. What they discover is groundbreaking! They reveal the truth behind compostable bioplastics.

Teun van de Keuken

Teun van de Keuken is a Dutch producer of television and radio programs who established a reputation investigating fair trade and production practices in the food industry; he founded the chocolate company Tony’s Chocolonely.

Teun van de Keuken’s documentary is broadcasted on KRO-NCRV, a Dutch public broadcasting company.

Teun inquires about compostable bioplastics in this documentary.

The documentary starts with a take away restaurant that uses compostable bioplastics packaging. The packaging is 3 to 5 times more expensive.

Composting in the Netherlands

There are 20 industrial composting companies in the Netherlands. Teun visits the biggest one.

That particular composting company doesn’t want to process the compostable bioplastics.

They wants to make good compost and they don’t believe compostable bioplastics will improve the quality of the compost.

In practice, the compostable plastic is removed when it contaminates the bio-waste stream.

Once removed, the compostable bioplastics is incinerated.

The reason why the industrial composting companies do not want the compostable bioplastics?

Compostable bioplastics don’t break down during the industrial composting process.

Ultimately, the compostable bioplastic and their residue are thus incinerated.

The journalist calls all Dutch composting companies but none of these companies wants to compost the compostable bioplastics.

Dutch Government

Teun calls the Dutch government and asks them what to do with the compostable bioplastics.

The government recommends to discard the compostable bioplastics with the regular household waste and not with the bio-waste.

The government even says that compostable bioplastics with the official “seedling logo” should be sent with the regular waste stream and not with the biowaste.


Seedling Logo

The seedling Logo is the official European compostability Logo.

The Dutch composting company says that the seedling logo advises a composting process that lasts 12 weeks while the industrial composting companies uses a four week process to compost the bio-waste.

Certification Agency – TÜV Austria Belgium

Teun calls Michiel van Gestel from TÜV Austria.

Michiel keeps saying that Austria TÜV emits seedling certificates according to the European composting norm.

Teun tells him that this does not correspond to the reality of the industrial composting companies.

Michiel says he cannot comment what happens in reality, he can only issues certificates according to the EU norm.

Teun is a bit astonished that the sales person of TÜV Austria is not interested in what happens in reality.

These composting claims are misleading claims according to the biggest composting company in the Netherlands.

Marketing trick?

Teun visits the bioplastic company called “Natureko” who sold the compostable packaging to the the take away restaurant in the beginning of the documentary.

Natureko doesn’t want to meet the journalist or answer his questions. They do not give a valid reason why!

Compostable Cups

The TV company where Teun works uses compostable cups. The cups are made from paper with a bioplastic coating. The cups are 100 % compostable. The company pays extra to have the cups composted.

Teun discovers that the compostable cups end up in the regular waste stream. Teun calls the waste collection company and is told that the cups are incinerated.

Teun calls the supplier of the cups to explain his discovery. The suppliers tells hims: we only say that it “could” be composted in theory.

President of European Bioplastics

Francois de Bie, president of the European Bioplastics is also interviewed.

Francois says that they often say to European Bioplastic members not to market their products as biological degradable  or compostable.

Francois says that the phrase “100 % compostable” should be removed from the packaging. He says that “compostable” is something that rings good in the ears of marketeers.

Francois says that he’s more charmed by the sentence “CO2 neutral” or “reduced carbon footprint” on the packaging than with the actual composting claims.

European Bioplastics finds that the way compostable bioplastics are marketed is misleading according to Francois.

Retail Coop

Teun calls a retail company called Coop who advertised compostable packaging on TV.

The retailer Coop decides to stop using the compostable packaging during the call with Teun. The reason that Coop gives is the following: the official “compostable logo” says that the packaging can be composted but in reality they’re not composted.

Toilet Paper

Teun calls the NL Government and asks them what happens to their compostable cups. The Dutch government  claims that these cups are transformed into toilet paper. Teun calls the toilet paper company and they tell Teun the cups are incinerated because they’re too filthy to be transformed into toilet paper.

Watch the documentary



Published on

Uitzending terugkijken: Is composteerbaar plastic de oplossing voor ons plasticprobleem?



I’m astonished … I’m falling off my chair.

Some compostable bioplastics don’t compost at all. The one that does end up incinerated because the composting process is too long for the industrial composting companies and we’re being told that we shouldn’t be using the seedling logo as a marketing claim.

Ladies and Gentleman… apparently … compostable bioplastics are not being composted. You’ve been paying the compostable packaging more for no reasons.

I don’t believe in the composting claim anymore thanks to the Dutch!


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