Compostable Container Liners to Reduce High Container Costs

SOIL’s Research Team experimenting with compostable container liners

In October of last year, SOIL’s research team met up in Cap-Haitien to identify potential opportunities to improve the efficiency of our service in the coming year. One of the opportunities identified during the team session is exploring the potential for using compostable bags as a liner for the containers in our EkoLakay in-home toilets. The team is interested in testing the idea that the liners may reduce some of the stress the containers go through during the cleaning and disinfection process and therefore reduce the incidences of container and lid breakage rates and costs.  

The research team is now in the process of experimenting to see how well compostable bags decompose throughout our waste treatment and transformation process. This would be the first time SOIL has experimented with container costs and explored different possibilities for improving cost efficiency. Our team is looking forward to seeing the results!  

Currently, SOIL’s containers have a relatively high rate of breakage due to consistent use and handling throughout the service chain, as well as material degradation due to the cleaning and disinfection process (i.e., power washing, chlorine, and UV exposure make the plastic brittle). The breakage results in the need to purchase new containers and lids often. Using compostable container liners, offers one potential solution that could reduce the amount of transport and handling the containers go through (if we just collected the bags from customers) or that could at least minimize the stress from the cleaning process because the containers would theoretically not be as dirty.

SOIL’s waste treatment team emptying containers

For the initial experiment, the research team ripped up 200 bags and mixed in the bags with waste from 200 containers, to mimic the state they would be in if we had actually filled them with waste. Over the next 10 weeks we will monitor how quickly the bags decompose by taking photos whenever the pile gets turned and observe any trouble throughout the process, such as the bags getting stuck in any of the pile turning tools.  

The bags we are currently testing with for this first trial are extremely thin and not feasible to actually implement in our service. However, this provides us with an opportunity to determine if composting bags decompose in a reasonable amount of time, before testing with thicker/ more durable bags that we would be able to use with our EkoLakay operations. As we wait for the composting process to begin, the research team continues to research and acquire samples of other brands of compostable bags that may be more durable. If the more durable bag samples appear to be a good fit with the EkoLakay service, and this first composting test goes well, we will then acquire larger sets of samples to test how well the more durable brands decompose in our composting operations.  

The success of this experiment would be important for SOIL and will help us to not only save on expenses, but also potentially improve our operations a great deal.   We are looking forward to updating you as the results come in. We hope you’re as excited as we are!

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