Ten years ago, we were innovators in the world of compostable plastic, pioneering a new world of possibilities aimed at reducing global plastic pollution. Now, more than a decade later, we have been joined by several other brands working to make their products more sustainable. Unfortunately, the majority of phone case manufacturers continue to produce using wasteful practices and environmentally harmful materials.
Our Pela Case is made from plant-based materials, and composts readily in home and industrial compost environments. What sets us apart from any other brand is that we make disposing of our products easy and convenient, because we really want our products to make a difference. Your Pela Case can be tossed in your backyard compost bin, brought to your local composting facility, or sent to us with our Pela 360 Program.
We give you lots of options to make sure it is easy to sustainably dispose of your phone case once you no longer need it, and ensure we always make this information available to new customers and old. Because we are so dedicated to collaborating with our customers to help build a better, cleaner future, it can be frustrating to see where other brands fail to communicate.
CASETiFY phone cases are slim, adorned with cute patterns, customizable, and are typically made from traditional injected and molded petroleum-based plastics. Like other companies that show interest in dipping their toes into the eco-friendly waters but don’t want to risk it all and dive in head-first, CASETiFY has recently launched a new line of “compostable plastic” phone cases in addition to their existing products.
The CASETiFY CONSCiOUS line of phone cases is made from a ‘bamboo-based material’ blended with plant-based starches to create a material that mimics traditional plastic. Advertised as ‘the World’s first customizable compostable phone case’, CASETiFY’s marketing techniques for the CONSCiOUS line immediately remind us of other cases of greenwashing we have encountered in the past.
Greenwashing is the practice of using misleading marketing tactics to lead customers to believe that a product is more environmentally friendly than it really is. While some cases of greenwashing are blatantly obvious to even the uninitiated consumer, other times, the use of greenwashing easily goes unnoticed.
Unlike other cases in which we see terms like ‘biodegradable’ wrongly being used interchangeably with ‘compostable’, this is merely a case of not-enough-information. While it is true that the CASETiFY CONSCiOUS phone cases are technically compostable, they cannot just be dropped into your average backyard composting bin, community garden, or local farmers market compost pile.
CONSCiOUS cases can only be successfully composted by industrial composting facilities, meaning consumers will need to send their cases directly to a nearby facility. If you don’t already get compost pickup, or an industrial composting facility in your community, your case cannot be composted by other means. While, strictly speaking, the CASETiFY CONSCiOUS cases are indeed compostable, that isn’t all there is to the story, and we would like to see more brands be transparent about the exact details of their products and their end of life.
While we usually like to investigate new eco-friendly products for ourselves, we ran into a little hiccup acquiring our own CASETiFY CONSCiOUS cases, and discovered something else in the process. CASETiFY ships their phone cases directly from Hong Kong, so unless you are located in East Asia, ordering their products initiates a lengthy and environmentally taxing journey.
International shipping is typically done via cargo vessels, and some 90,000 currently sail our oceans. Annually, these ships release more than 1.12 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, accounting for around 3% of the planet’s total emissions. To reduce your personal carbon footprint, ordering from stores that ship from within your own country or general hemisphere is typically less environmentally costly than shipping internationally.
The composting process requires a few simple ingredients: water, nitrogen, carbon, oxygen, and heat. As compost matures and the microorganisms within it do their work, heat builds within the pile. The heat is both a result of the process of composting, and a help to moving the process of decomposition along. Home compost piles heat naturally, though high temperatures are rarely maintained for more than a day or two.
In industrial composting facilities, high temperatures of between 120-140 degrees Fahrenheit can be sustained for upwards of 10 days, vastly increasing the rate of decomposition and successfully breaking down tougher bioplastics. The lengthy exposure to high-heat works to break the molecular bonds, ensuring the products are fully composted by the end of the process.
While we could have just buried several phone cases in our compost piles and waited a few months, we’ve got more sophisticated ways of doing things here at Pela. Using specialty equipment designed to speed up the composting process using heat, airflow, and circulation, we put one of the CASETiFY phone cases to the test against a compostable Pela Case to see how they would stack up. Basically, we wanted to see if CASETiFY could decompose as readily as the Pela Case, and what would be left over after the process had finished.
While it is safe to say that CASETiFY is making some steps to reduce their carbon footprint, a little more transparency and communication between the company and its customer base could go a long way for improving the effectiveness of their eco-conscious campaign. Though you may not yet be able to toss this ‘compostable’ phone case in your compost, you can bring it to a local industrial facility, or have it picked up by your preferred composting service.
Want to learn more about composting, the environment, and how you can make eco-friendly choices? Visit Pela to see our full line of compostable plastic phone cases, and be surer to visit our blog for more news, tips, and insight from our team!