compostable vs biodegradable explained

compostable vs biodegradable explained

Compostable... biodegradable... both words are thrown around a lot, but do we actually know what they mean? Let's chat. 

First things first, they are not the same. The main difference between the two  is that biodegradable products deteriorate naturally over time, while compostable items require a specific environment to become compost, but break down more quickly and can often be recycled and reused. 
What does biodegradable mean? According to the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM): anything that degrades from the action of naturally occurring microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi and algae. Usually, products that are derived from plants, animals, or natural minerals are biodegradable. This goes beyond plants + food. Cardboard boxes and paper are also biodegradable, but just take much longer to break down. So pizza boxes are a gooo!
Here are some simple tips to figuring out if something biodegradable or not:
If it comes from the earth, if it wasn't overly processed, and if it will have a positive or negative effect on the environment. 
Now let’s about what compostable means. 
Composting is a form of biodegradability that transforms organic waste — such as food scraps and fallen leaves — into humus, a dark brown material that can supply soil with valuable nutrients. Unlike many biodegradable materials, compostable products are useful to the environment. You can even compost at home. (PUBLIC GOODS).
Here is what to keep in mind with deciding if something is compostable or not: Can the material transform into organic waste that is useful for the environment? Is the compostable material a type of food or organic substance to start with? How long will it take for the material to decompose, and can it compose in a timely manner?
You still there? Keep following along, because now we want to talk about biodegradable and compostable products. Many restaurants now package in compostable bowls etc, companies ship things in compostable mailers, and we can buy compostable products common stores like Target. Most of these plastics cannot be composted at home and need to go to a facility! 
One more thing- we wanted to do some more research. 
We decided to look into the company that we purchase our mailers from, Noissue- and we were happy to find that "the bags are certified by the leading authorities worldwide; meeting American, European, International and Australian standards – including certifications for your domestic home compost. To gain these certifications, the product must break down within 90 days in commercial compost and 180 days in domestic compost conditions, including worm farm compost. After degradation, they must leave no harmful residues behind."
So boom, we're all compostable vs biodegradable geniuses now. Love you and have a happy day!