At Saunt Eyewear, we're proud to make our sunglass frames from 100% castor bean oil, a renewable plant-based material that is both durable and lightweight. Customers often ask if our frames are biodegradable. The truth is that the term "biodegradable" is often ill-defined and can be used in misleading ways. In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at what biodegradability means, how it's defined, and whether the term is being used accurately in the world of eco-friendly products.
First of all, it's important to understand what biodegradability actually means.
Biodegradable bio-plastics are designed to break down into natural elements such as carbon dioxide, water, and biomass, under certain conditions, usually within a specified period of time. This process can occur through exposure to light, heat, moisture, or microorganisms in the environment. However, it's important to note that not all biodegradable plastics break down completely or quickly enough to be considered truly environmentally friendly, and some may leave behind harmful microplastics that can persist in the environment.
Not all materials that are marketed as "biodegradable" actually meet the criteria for this term. In fact, there is currently no standardized definition for what makes a material biodegradable.
Some companies use the term loosely, making claims that their products will "break down naturally" without any clear evidence to support this. This practice is known as "greenwashing," and it can mislead consumers into thinking they are making a more sustainable choice than they actually are.
Compostable plastics, on the other hand, are designed to biodegrade under specific composting conditions, including a combination of heat, moisture, and microorganisms in a controlled environment. Composting breaks down the material into nutrient-rich soil that can be used for agriculture or other applications, without leaving behind harmful residues or microplastics.
So, while both biodegradable and compostable plastics can break down and reduce their impact on the environment, compostable plastics are designed to do so more quickly and completely, and without leaving behind any harmful residues. Additionally, compostable plastics are only considered compostable if they meet certain standards and certifications, such as the European standard EN 13432 or the U.S. standard ASTM D6400, which specify the conditions and time frame for composting.
So, how can you determine whether a product is truly biodegradable? The best way is to look for certifications from reputable organizations such as the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) or the Composting Council. These organizations have established guidelines for what materials can be considered biodegradable and set specific standards for testing and certification. If a product has been certified by one of these organizations, it's more likely to actually break down in a natural or industrial composting environment.
At Saunt Eyewear, we have chosen not to make claims about biodegradability for our frames, because they do not meet the specific criteria for certification. However, we do believe that our use of castor bean oil as a plant-based material is a step in the right direction towards more eco-friendly eyewear stepping away from the fossil fuels based materials in conventional eyewear. Our frames are also designed to last a long time, reducing the need for frequent replacements that can contribute to waste and pollution.
To summarize, while the term "biodegradable" is often used in marketing materials, it's important to be aware that this term is not clearly defined and can be used in a misleading way. Understanding the difference between biodegradable and compostable is important when it comes to making informed choices. To determine whether a product is actually biodegradable, look for third-party certifications from organizations that have established guidelines and standards.
At Saunt Eyewear, we're committed to using eco-friendly materials and environmentally responsible practices, and we believe that transparency and honesty are key to making real progress towards healing our planet.