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Compostable vs Biodegradable

What is the Difference between Compostable vs biodegradable?

Do you think that compostable and biodegradable materials are recyclable and waste using naturally broken down? When you compare these two types, one of the main reasons is that biodegradable products do not require any specific time as they can need an undetermined time to be broken down. On the other hand, compostables require a certain time, temperature, and moisture like those found in industrial composting facilities to do so.

If you don’t know then biodegradable will eventually break down into a few organic materials under the right time that include a product like a plastic-lined paper coffee cup. While the paper will break down and eventually the plastic, there is still microplastic waste left behind.

Think of composting as a recycling superhero for your food leftovers, garden clippings, BioBags, and even coffee cups lined with plant-based plastic. It transforms all that into rich, earthy goodness without leaving any plastic or harmful chemicals behind.

If something’s compostable, it’s biodegradable. But just because something’s biodegradable doesn’t mean you can compost it.

Read The Definition Of Biodegradable and Compostable

So, biodegradable stuff is like a snack for tiny critters like fungi and bacteria. They munch on these products and break them down into natural bits and pieces you would find in the great outdoors. Now, when we say something’s compostable, we mean it can fall apart into harmless, earth-friendly bits. It breaks down just as fast as other natural things when it’s in the right warm and damp conditions, helped along by those same little microorganisms. In the end, you get this awesome compost that’s made of CO2, water, and other natural stuff.

Alright, let’s break down some more eco-friendly terms that often get mixed up:

Zero Waste:

This is a big goal where nothing gets thrown out to harm our planet or health. If something is zero waste it means it can be fully used up and then brought back into the cycle without trashing the land, water, or air.


This term sounds good but it’s pretty vague. Almost everything will break down eventually, even plastic. But here’s the catch: it can take centuries! When plastics break down, they can release harmful chemicals and turn into tiny bits of plastic that stick around in the environment.

Marine Degradable

This label means that the product can break down in the ocean within 3-6 months, but it’s got to have a special certificate like ASTM D6691 or TUV Austria MARINE to prove it. And just because it can break down in the sea doesn’t mean we should be tossing it in there.


This one’s a bit iffy. It’s usually slapped on regular plastics that have some extra stuff mixed in so they can break down with enough oxygen and light. But here’s the thing: the EU has banned these because they’re not trustworthy and they end up turning into microplastics.

Final Thoughts on Compostable vs. Biodegradable

So, when you are weighing up compostable versus biodegradable, here’s the deal: “biodegradable” might sound eco-friendly, but it’s not always what it seems since there’s no strict rulebook for it. On the flip side, compostable materials are the real deal for Mother Earth. If you are on the hunt for truly green compostable products, don’t get tripped up by the vague “biodegradable” label. Instead, keep an eye out for legit standards and certifications like “Meets ASTM D6400 standard.”

And hey, if you’re looking to greenify your Food Packaging, BoxesGen Packaging has got your back. Dive into our selection of takeout containers or hit up our Packaging pros for some solid advice on making your business more sustainable.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the characteristics of biodegradable packaging?

Biodegradable packaging is made from materials that can decompose naturally through the action of microorganisms, breaking down into water, carbon dioxide, and biomass without leaving harmful residues.

What are the 4 main benefits of biodegradable packaging?

Reduces Waste in Landfills

Lower Environmental Impact

Sustainable Resource Use

Supports Composting

What material is 100% biodegradable?

Materials like food waste, paper, and certain bioplastics such as polylactic acid (PLA) are 100% biodegradable.

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