Biodegradable vs Compostable: What's The Difference?

Understanding the Difference Between Biodegradable and Compostable

We often use words like biodegradable and compostable interchangeably. However, there's a vast amount of difference between the two.

For starters, biodegradable products are those that eventually break down into harmless compounds. However, the rate at which these products break down differs, depending upon the product composition and might take a lot of time.  

Compostable products, on the other hand, usually take just 90 days to break down into finer particles and mix back into the soil.

So, if you are planning to practice sustainability and trying to understand such buzzwords, we have got you covered. Read on to explore how these two terms differ from one another.

What are Biodegradable Products?  

We bet you have seen this word labeled on products like soaps or shampoos. But what's the actual meaning behind it? To put it simply, anything labeled as biodegradable will break down into harmless compounds. Biodegradable compounds are mostly animal-based, plant-based or natural mineral-based. However, the biodegrading time will differ depending on the product's material. The time usually depends upon the product's composition and how much it has been processed.

As per the definition by ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials), a product is biodegradable when it undergoes degradation due to the actions caused by microorganisms like bacteria, algae or fungi. Moreover, the time to break down is always less for a biodegradable product than for a non-biodegradable product like plastic. Some biodegradable examples are papers, bags, boxes and other items that can break down at a microscopic level.  

What are Compostable Products?

A compostable product breaks down into natural elements, given it is in a compostable environment. And, because it gets broken down into its natural form, these products cause no harm to the environment. Moreover, unlike biodegradable products, where the breakdown process might not take a set time, compostable products usually break down within 90 days.  

The ASTM defines compostables as anything that can be biologically degraded during composting to produce water, CO2, inorganic compounds, and biomass at a pace comparable to other compostable products without leaving any discernible, harmful, or observable residue. 

What's Exactly The Difference? 

The definitions of both terms make it very clear why they are frequently used interchangeably, yet there is a distinction. All biodegradable materials are compostable, but not all biodegradable materials are compostable. Contrarily, compostable materials produce something called humus, which is full of nutrients and excellent for plants, whereas biodegradable materials return to nature and often leave behind metal residue. In conclusion, compostable products have an advantage over biodegradable ones. They help trees and plants flourish by releasing essential nutrients into the soil as they decompose. 

Overall, compostable products improve soil health rather than damaging its quality. You can also conduct home composting, where you can throw your used compostable products in your yard.  

Compostable goods are organic matter that decomposes; the end product has numerous advantageous uses, including fertilizing and enhancing soil health. Biodegradable products are materials that break down and decay in the environment. Most importantly, because compostable materials are already organic, they don't leave behind any hazardous residue.  

Contrary to compostable products, certain biodegradable items might take several years to decompose and, in some cases, even leave harmful waste in their wake. For instance, plant-based polymers are frequently designated as biodegradable. Although they are designed to degrade more quickly than regular plastic and to be safer for the environment, this may only be the case if certain environmental conditions are met. 

Try Composting Today

If you are keen on following a sustainable life, our home essentials like tableware, kitchenware and trash bags are a 100% compostable. These products are made from palm leaves, sugarcane fiber, cornstarch or bamboo.  

Apart from being good for the planet, these products are also extra strong, leak-proof, and durable compared to their plastic counterparts. Check out our range today.  

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