"Vertical farms, in theory, and design do not use any soil. Thus, they typically don’t have the capability of creating traditional compost. Also, you would need up to 20 tons of compost per acre of traditional outdoor farmland," says founder and CEO Albert Lin.
Most of a vertical farm’s waste ends up in a traditional landfill. Therefore, Vegbed wanted to create and test a product in this exact environment. The logic was that if a farm can’t do composting itself or bring it to a commercial facility, they at least wanted the material to naturally biodegrade in a typical landfill.
According to Albert, there are products on the market that claim compostability, but under closer inspection, it is the BPI label for commercial composting.
Albert Lin pictured
To ensure the product met the sustainability standards, Vegbed recently submitted its nonwoven bamboo fiber mat sample for biodegradability testing under standard ASTM D5511 at Intertek.
The test, which determines the degree and rate of anaerobic biodegradation in high-solids anaerobic conditions, showed very positive results. Vegbed's sample was exposed to a methanogenic inoculum derived from anaerobic digesters operating only on pretreated household waste.
Under these conditions, the nonwoven bamboo fiber mat was able to achieve a percent weight loss of 87.01% after 45 days.
The Positive control (Reference material) also achieved 70.86% on the 27th day with less than 20% of the mean difference between the replicates. This means that Vegbed's sample was able to meet the validity requirements set by ASTM D5511.
To conclude, the results of the test indicate that Vegbed's nonwoven bamboo fiber mat is highly biodegradable (as seen in Graph-2b) and can decompose quickly and efficiently in high-solids anaerobic digesters treating municipal solid waste. "This is great news for us and our commitment to developing sustainable products that are kinder to the planet."
Albert adds, "By creating growing solutions that are biodegradable, we are trying to help shift the industry away from utilizing peat-based and other unsustainable substrates. We hope to see more companies follow in our footsteps and prioritize sustainability in their products - without adding extra work for the farm."
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Albert Lin, founder