The Difference Between Compostable and Biodegradable

Planting

Ever wonder what the difference is between compostable and biodegradable? The two terms are often used interchangeably just as someone describes fuel efficiency as fuel economy and vice versa. You’d be surprised to learn that what you thought as biodegradable might not be all that environmental friendly after you read this article by BioBag.

COMPOSTABLE VS BIODEGRADABLE

Biodegradable and compostable are terms used when describing organic materials breaking down in a specific environment. Both terms are often used when defining environmentally friendly products. The term biodegradable is very often misused in marketing and advertising of products and materials that are not actually environmentally friendly. (The State of California outlawed the use of the terms “biodegradable,” “degradable,” or “decomposable,” or any form of those terms because of all the abuse and greenwashing.) This is why BioBag®Americas (Buy it here) only uses the term “Compostable” when describing, marketing, and labeling our products. All of BioBag’s products are third-party certified compostable.

Biodegradable

The definition of biodegradable is that a material is capable of undergoing biological anaerobic or aerobic degradation leading to the production of CO2, H2O, methane, biomass, and mineral salts, depending on the environmental conditions of the process. An important role in biodegradation is played by microorganisms, which are present in the environment and fed mostly by organic waste. However, unlike compostable, the term biodegradable means very little as everything is biodegradable given time. Thus, it is very important to specify the environment where biodegradation is intended to take place.

Compostable

Composting is the process of breaking down organic waste by microbial digestion to create compost. Compost has many beneficial uses including improving and fertilizing soil. To go through a composting process, organic waste requires the right level of heat, water, and oxygen. In a pile of organic waste, there are millions of tiny microbes that consume the waste, transforming the organic materials into compost. In order to claim that a product is fully compostable, the product has to meet all the requirements in the European Norm EN 13432 and/or the US Standard ASTM D6400. Both specifications require that biodegradable/compostable products completely decompose in a composting setting in a specific time frame, leaving no harmful residues behind. All of BioBag products (except the Max Air bucket) meet the requirements of the US Standard ASTM D6400 and the European Norm EN 13432.

Courtesy of BioBag

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