What exactly do the terms biodegradable and compostable mean, and what is the difference between the two?
What does biodegradable mean?
According to the Oxford dictionary, biodegradable can be defined as a substance that can be broken down by a natural process. This is done by living microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi.
As mentioned, this is an entirely natural process and is in no way time-dependent. The rate of degradation depends on many environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and oxygen.
What does compostable mean?
Compostable simply means that a substance or product can be broken down into its simplest form within a compost environment. Because of its breakdown into its natural elements, composted products pose no harm to the environment.
Composting is a human-controlled version of bio-degradation, and because of this there are some ground rules:
- At least 90% bio-degradation into CO-2 within 6 months.
There are less than 1% additives of which must be harmless (non-toxic & zero negative effects on plant growth).
When a product is composted it yields CO-2, water, inorganic compounds, and biomass at a rate similar to other decomposing substances such as leaves. The entire composting process should always be completed within 90 days.
What is the difference between biodegradable and compostable?
After reading the definitions of each, it is easy to understand that while all compostable material is biodegradable, not all biodegradable material is compostable.
Although all biodegradable materials break down and return to nature, they may leave behind trace elements and toxins.
Some of these biodegradable products may also take many years to decompose, for example, steel or plastic acid (PLA), a common material used in green companies.
On the other hand, because composting is human-controlled and has a required time frame, the long-lasting substances such as metals and some plastics are not considered acceptable.
Because of the control factor, composted material is free of toxins, has a high turnover time frame, and is highly nutritious to plants. If you buy any of the iPhone Eco-friendly phone cases on this site you will get exactly the product, which will eventually decompose and leave nothing just a nutritions for the soil.
So what is better?
After taking in the information above, it is clear to see that whenever possible, compostable products should be chosen over an only-biodegradable version.
Part of the world trash problem is the mass amount of time it takes for our produced items to break down, as well as what they break down into (think micro-plastics).
Start your own composting project, even if it is a small one, and choose to purchase compostable products whenever possible. Please have a look at our Samsung Eco-friendly phone cases and you will get 100% compostable product.
When choosing a product, it is better to choose a biodegradable one over something that will not degrade naturally, however, when the choice is possible, always choose something compostable.
While biodegradable products will eventually breakdown, the time will vary and may leave behind toxins and poisonous metals.
On the other hand, composting is a time-controlled human process that promises a fast breakdown of organic materials into their simplest, non-toxic forms.