Are abaca bags biodegradable? (5 benefits of recycling abaca bags)

This article will cover the biodegradability of abaca bags. Other covered topics include:

  • Are abaca bags natural or non-natural?
  • If abaca bags are biodegradable, should they be disposed of?
  • Can abaca bags be composted?
  • Can abaca bags be recycled?
  • What are the reuses of abaca?
  • FAQs

Are abaca bags biodegradable?

Abaca bags are made from abaca (which is a type of banana). Abaca bags are natural and therefore, regarded as 100% biodegradable. 

However, there are other ways in which abaca bags may be utilised better. These include the composting and recycling possibilities of abaca bags. This would be advantageous for both the people and the planet. 

There are also a couple of ways abaca may be reused in a number of modern-day consumer products. These include automotive industry applications, apparel industry, and furniture industry. 

Are abaca bags natural or synthetic?

If it is to be known if a product is biodegradable or not then one of the safest and smartest ways is to assess whether that product is made from natural materials or non-natural materials. 

This is mainly because there is a general rule of thumb that natural materials are more prone to biodegradation as compared to synthetic materials. 

In natural materials, there is a good amount of nutritional content which will be devoured by microbes. This is not the case for non-natural materials. 

Abaca is actually a type of banana that is known for its qualities of durability, flexibility and resistance to tough environments. Owing to these features, abaca is used to make bags because bags also require similar properties. 

Therefore, it can very easily be summed up that abaca bags are made from purely natural materials and thus are biodegradable. 

Biodegradation may be introduced as the degradation that is brought about by bio. Bio means life. By life, microbes such as bacteria, fungi, algae, and protozoa are referred to. 

By definition, biodegradation is the breakdown of waste into simpler substances by the action of microbes so that waste may not accumulate and return back to nature’s system. 

However, not everything that is produced and used can be broken down by microbes. This is because microbes are living creatures that rely on only materials that they can use as food. 

Most of the synthetic materials are made from the derivatives of fossil fuels. These materials have no nutritional content and therefore, are not degraded by the microbes. Such materials are called non-biodegradable waste. 

Examples of this kind of waste include synthetic plastics, synthetic polymers, synthetic fibres et cetera. Such waste may remain in the environment for many hundred years. For example, PET may remain in landfills for more than 500 years.

Fortunately, this is not the case with abaca bags as these bags are 100% biodegradable and eco-friendly in this regard. 

If abaca bags are biodegradable, should you dispose of them?

This is a common misperception. If something is biodegradable then it does not necessitate that that particular product is safe to just simply dispose it of. There are countless ways in which it can be utilised in a much better and more efficient way. 

The burgeoning environmental challenges require us to do the very same. To be resourceful and innovative enough to extract the full juice out of our products even though it may seem that they no longer serve the purpose. 

Every consumer product, be it eco-friendly or not, has some impact on the environment be it significant or non-significant. Just because a product is biodegradable, it does not give us the licence to be reckless about it. 

Therefore, let us explore some ways in which abaca bags can be utilised better and these actions are far better off than just simply throwing them away after use. 

Composting abaca bags

This is an important question because composting is regarded as quite advantageous to both the environment and the life it supports. 

The main reason behind it is that the end result of composting which is termed compost can be used as a natural fertiliser. 

This can substitute synthetic fertilisers that are made of various chemicals and have the capacity to degrade and cause soil and water pollution. 

Another great advantage of composting is that the compost can be used to improve the organic content of the soil. This can lead to better fertility and increased water conservation. 

When the organic content of the soil is greater, its ability to retain water increases many times. As a result, it requires less water. The saved groundwater, which is an extremely limited resource, may be used for other purposes then. 

As regards the question, the possibility of composting abaca bags depends on a number of factors. These factors can be termed the essential prerequisites of composting. If abaca bags pass all the required prerequisites then it can be concluded that abaca bags can be composted. 

This is because compost is an important product and therefore it is essential to ensure that it is not harmful in any way. If this does not happen, then it will automatically imply that the compost will have the capacity to do more harm than good. 

Now, reclining back to the conditions. These are: 

  • abaca bags must be non-toxic
  • abaca bags must be natural
  • abaca bags must be biodegradable 
  • abaca bags must organic in nature 
  • abaca bags must be inert to the natural order 

As abaca bags can be regarded as food waste, it is possible to compost abaca bags. This will offer the following advantages to the people and the environment: 

  • Increase in the water retention ability of the soil 
  • Promotion of plant and crops growth 
  • Economical benefits 
  • Conservation of water
  • Increase in organic content of the soil
  • Improvement in soil fertility

How to?

The composting of abaca bags can be done by the following steps: 

  • Given bags to composting centres or you may compost at home 

The key ingredients for composting at home are: 

  • Proper space 
  • Time 
  • Aeration
  • Temperature
  • Brown and green layers 
  • Patience 
  • Utilisation 

The composting at home may be done in the following steps:

  • Selection of suitable site
  • Making pile either openly or in compost bin 
  • Make alternate layers of green (nitrogen rich) and brown (carbon rich) material
  • Regularly aerate and mix the layers 
  • Wait for 5-7 months 
  • Utilise the compost to achieve its benefits 

Recycling abaca bags (5 benefits) 

Another useful strategy than just simply throwing away abaca bags is to recycle them so that abaca bags may be reused as anew. 

Recycling can be explained as the reusing of any product after due changes and modifications to it. 

It is a very useful approach because when materials are recycled, they are not needed to be made from scratch. This saves a lot of time, energy, and resources. 

The advantages of recycling stand out in the case of both biodegradable and non-biodegradable materials. 

When non-biodegradable materials are recycled, their harmful impacts on the environment are avoided. That is why recycling is regarded as one of the best options to deal with non-biodegradable waste.

Abaca bags are biodegradable. Needless to say, there are advantages in this case as well. When abaca bags are recycled, they are not required to be made from scratch. This saves pressure on plant sources from where abaca raw materials are extracted. 

When the raw materials are not given any extra, unnecessary pressure, the need to depend on chemicals such as agrochemicals also reduces. 

These chemicals are really harmful to the soil and water ecosystems and their effects reciprocate on many levels of the food chains. 

In a nutshell, the advantages of recycling abaca bags can be summarised in the following points: 

  • Better waste management 
  • Better resource management
  • Decreased use of resources
  • Decreased GHG emissions and greenhouse effect
  • Economic benefits to the consumers and the producers

How to?

There are two approaches that can be used to recycle abaca bags. One is the dumping of bags in green-coloured recycling bins. The other is the transportation of abaca bags to recycling facilities. 

For the second, look up (on the web) about the nearest recycling facilities. Almost all will accept abaca bags. You may either given them personally or schedule a pickup appointment. 

Reusing abaca?

We have discussed the biodegradability, recycling and composting possibilities of abaca bags. However, these processes, regardless of how eco-friendly they are, would still require some amount of energy and processing. 

This would lead to waste production and a carbon footprint. The point here is that regardless of the eco-friendly aspect of any process, there are sure to be environmental repercussions, be they significant or non-significant. 

However, there are some simple options that are the least energy-consumptive. These processes require smart thinking and an innovative approach. One of them is the reusing of abaca. 

Let us now discuss some of the ways in which abaca may be reused which will be in line with the environmental and economic standpoints. These are:

  • Nets
  • Fishing line
  • Ropes
  • Ships’ rigging
  • Curtains
  • Clothing
  • Furnishing
  • Automotive industry applications 

Conclusion

It is concluded that abaca bags are made from abaca (which is a type of banana). Abaca bags are natural and therefore, regarded as 100% biodegradable. 

However, there are other ways in which abaca bags may be utilised better. These include the composting and recycling possibilities of abaca bags. This would be advantageous for both the people and the planet. 

There are also a couple of ways abaca may be reused in a number of modern-day consumer products. These include automotive industry applications, apparel industry, and furniture industry. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Are abaca bags biodegradable?

What are some products made from abaca?

Some products made from abaca include shoes, clothes, carpets, rugs, wall coverings et cetera. 

Is abaca natural?

Yes, abaca is a species of banana and therefore is 100% natural. That is why it is also regarded as biodegradable and compostable. 

References

  • MILLER, H. H. (2001). ABACA.’.
  • Armecin, R. B., Sinon, F. G., & Moreno, L. O. (2014). Abaca fibre: A renewable bio-resource for industrial uses and other applications. In Biomass and bioenergy (pp. 107-118). Springer, Cham.
  • Anderson, J. (2003). The environmental benefits of water recycling and reuse. Water Science and Technology: Water Supply, 3(4), 1-10.
  • Tokiwa, Y., Calabia, B. P., Ugwu, C. U., & Aiba, S. (2009). Biodegradability of plastics. International journal of molecular sciences, 10(9), 3722-3742.
  • Vijayalakshmi, K., Neeraja, C. Y., Kavitha, A., & Hayavadana, J. (2014). Abaca fibre. Transactions on Engineering and Sciences, 2(9), 16-19.
  • Unal, F., Avinc, O., & Yavas, A. (2020). Sustainable textile designs are made from renewable biodegradable sustainable natural abaca fibres. In Sustainability in the Textile and Apparel Industries (pp. 1-30). Springer, Cham.

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