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Biodegradable vs compostable vs oxo-degradable

Compostable Vs Biodegradable - Looking at the differences

Although the phrases composting and biodegradation are not synonymous, both involve natural degradation, or the breakdown of organic materials into the earth through digestion by microbes. Oxo-degradable polymers have chemicals that, over time, chemically degrade plastic but can't be consumed by microbes.


The necessity to develop packaging options that did not produce as much waste and toxicity as synthetic materials, such as traditional plastic, led to the development of environmentally friendly packaging. What is the difference between the terms "compostable," "biodegradable," and "oxo-degradable" when discussing sustainability measures for packaging materials?


What does it mean when package characteristics are referred to as "Compostable" or "Biodegradable"? Do oxo-degradable plastics qualify as "green packaging" in any way?


This guide will explain what terms to look for on environmentally friendly packaging.

What is 'Compostable'?

A material is compostable if, under the right conditions (heat, humidity, oxygen, and the presence of microorganisms), it will decompose over a certain period of time into CO2, water, and nutrient-rich compost.

What makes "compostable" superior to "biodegradable"?


If the sustainable packaging you use is marked "compostable," you can be confident that it will break down under composting conditions in 180 days or less. It is comparable to the way microbes break down and decompose food and garden waste without leaving any harmful leftovers.


Why compostable is important?


Waste from flexible plastic packaging is frequently too polluted with food waste to be recycled and is instead sent to landfill or burning. Compostable packaging can help with this. Additionally to avoid trash and incineration, composting would return organic materials to the earth.


According to Daphna Nissenbaum, co-founder and CEO of TIPA®, "If packaging trash can integrate into the organic waste system and be used as compost (nutrient-rich soil) for the following generation of plants, then waste has a circular, more useful, and even "down-to-earth" purpose for the market.


What distinguishes a home composter from a commercial or industrial one?


Home composters are typically exposed to ambient temperatures, or the temperature of their surroundings, due to their smaller bulk. Compostable materials will decompose after 180 days in these circumstances (the time in which they must disintegrate to be certified home compostable).

Commercial or industrial composters produce higher heat (45–60 C) due to the increased volume of organic material they contain, accelerating the biodegradation process. As a result, the same compostable materials would typically decompose in commercial compost in 90 days, which is roughly half as long as it would take in a home compost.

How Do I Know My Package is Compostable?

Make sure the product comes from a certified compostable packaging source when looking for items that are packaged in compostable materials, such as pantry staples like organic granola in compostable pouches. To ensure that the packaging you purchase will decompose fast, thoroughly, and safely with no harmful residues left behind that could reduce the value of the finished compost, look for a certified Compostable Logo.


Products marked "biodegradable" are made expressly to break down in a composting system and can be composted along with food scraps and other products that have received certification as compostable, such as takeaway containers, food packing, cups, and plates.


Where Can Biodegradable Packaging Be Compiled?


If your city does not already offer a compost collection service, you can push your local and state officials to allocate funding for community, commercial, or industrial compost. You can put your biodegradable packaging in your home compost if it bears the home compostable emblem (learn how to start one with our blog post, Going Back to Basics: How to Start Your Home Compost).


Ask your store manager for more sustainably packaged products or a full, plastic-free aisle that includes compostable plastics like TIPA® if you don't notice any compostable packaging when you go shopping.


Supermarkets want to know what you think, so chances are good that the items you want will soon be available.


Today, all of your flexible packaging requirements, including those for fresh fruit, grains, coffee beans, tea bags, snacks, clothes, and even zipped bags for daily storage, can be met with fully functioning, consumer-friendly compostable solutions. So why choose traditional plastic?

What is 'Biodegradable'?

The term "biodegradable" refers to a process rather than the circumstances or time frame in which a product will break down and decompose.


Why is utilising "Biodegradable" products problematic?


The term "biodegradable" has a difficulty in that it is ambiguous and lacks a timeframe or set of requirements. Because of this, many items can be declared "biodegradable" even though they won't actually "biodegrade."


Technically, all naturally existing organic compounds are capable of biodegradation under the correct circumstances. However, this process could take hundreds or even thousands of years. For instance, while wood is biodegradable, wooden structures last for many generations and don't decompose.


Regulatory bodies around the world have started to restrict or outright prohibit the use of the term "biodegradable" as a way to label packaging in favour of the term "compostable," which better describes what one can expect at the end-of-life of that packaging, as well as when. This is done in order to avoid confusion for consumers and industrial compost digesters.

What are Oxo-degradable Plastics?

Oxo-degradable goods are constructed from regular plastics and enhanced with certain chemicals to break down polymers into tiny fragments, but the process ends there. As a result of microorganisms' inability to digest the synthetic monomers, they will never fully biodegrade.


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