Your cart
Close Alternative Icon
FREE DOMESTIC SHIPPING ON ORDERS OVER $750 HKD

Lifestyle

Compostable vs Biodegradable: What's the Difference?

Compostable vs Biodegradable: What's the Difference?

Feeling a little bit confused about the difference between compostable and biodegadable? Don't worry, you're not the only one!  Both words get used quite frequently in the sustainability world, but they are quite different!  Let's set the record straight...

COMPOSTABLE

  • Composting is a human-driven process in which biodegradation occurs under a specific set of circumstances
  • Composting is an accelerated biodegradation process due to optimized circumstances
  • The material needs a certain environment in order to properly compost in regards to temperature, moisture and oxygen
  • Leaves no visible, distinguishable or toxic residue
  • Most of the material breaks down completely within 180 days
  • This compost not only returns to it's original state but is also beneficial and can be used to enrich soil

BIODEGRADABLE

  • Biodegradation is the naturally-occurring breakdown of materials by microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi or other biological activity
  • Products that will biodegrade in nature or in home compost heaps may not biodegrade in landfills, where there's not enough bacteria, light, and water to move the process along
  • Is meant to occur naturally without human intervention and without causing harm
  • Can decompose back into natural elements
  • Capable of biodegrading without any oxygen source
  • The timeline for biodegradation is not well defined, and can be quite varied

DEGRADABLE

  • Any product can be labelled "degradable" because everything will eventually break down
  • The product will naturally break down into smaller pieces, eventually, but this could take thousands of years
  • Depending on the material, it could leave behind toxicity to the soil and the environment around it

KEY POINTS

While all compostable material is also biodegradable, not all biodegradable material is compostable

Compostable materials are broken down with human intervention, while biodegradable materials break down naturally

Compostable materials break down quickly and within a specified timeframe, while biodegradable materials are not held to a specific timeframe and could take years (like steel products which will eventually rust)

Both processes should not cause any harm to the environment, while composting is known to also be beneficial to soil

Many companies may use these terms to "greenwash" their products and make them appear more eco-friendly than they actually are

 

Continue reading