VERNON, Calif. — When you have worked in the fashion industry as long as Joy Somerville has, seeing a solution to plastic waste — like the Invisible Bag — is a little magical.

What You Need To Know

  • Forty million tons of plastic waste generated in the U.S. last year, only 5% to 6% was recycled, according to a new report

  • About 85% went to landfills, and 10% was incinerated

  • Invisible Bag is an alternative for manufacturers and brands to replace conventional plastic packaging

  • LA Compost is a community-based cooperative

The bag disappears when hot water is poured over it and stirred.

“You could even put it in the trash, or you can put it in your recycling bin and in 90 days or less, it will disintegrate,” Somerville said.

Invisible Bags are a nontoxic, water-soluble and biodegradable combo made with starch, glycerin and water.

As a clothing manufacturer, Somerville helps distribute Invisible Bags to brands, encouraging them to make the switch from plastic packaging.

“If we could replace them with Invisible Bags that biodegrade or compost, then we won’t have our plastic crisis as we have now,” Somerville said.

Invisible Bags are certified for composting in industrial settings, as opposed to a backyard or windrow setting like the ones found at LA Compost.

Manager Gina Vollono said that at their regional site, they process two tons of food scraps a week that microorganisms digest.

“As those microorganisms eat and breakdown and reproduce and metabolize, they create heat just like you and I when we run around, and that actually gets released as steam,” Vollono said.

To help the microorganisms, piles are turned and watered for oxygen and moisture.

Composting creates nutrient-rich soil and keeps food out of landfills that would otherwise release the potent greenhouse gas methane.

“Just by removing that amount of food scraps sitting in the landfill, we’re really reducing the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitting into the atmosphere,” Vollono said.

And not only food — at least 85% of U.S. plastic went into landfills last year.

Somerville sees Invisible Bags as a way to help.

“We feel guilty day in and day out, because of how much plastic we use, and we contribute to it,” Somerville said. “So we want to be, when we looked at it we thought, this is perfect so then we can be part of the solution.”