Do you know the difference between biodegradable and compostable?

Updated: Apr 22, 2021

You must hear about biodegradable and compostable packaging, but do you really know the differences they exist? Here is something you should know, including how to dispose of them.

biodegradable vs compostable packaging
biodegradable vs compostable packaging

As a brand, YUYUN has committed to producing pure products since we established. Pureness unlimited is our slogan and our first achievement was making our tea and its pouch 100% plastic-free. We do not want our products to end up on the landfill, therefore, all our packaging is either compostable or recyclable.


It might sound like a little bit confusing. You might ask what is the difference between degradable, biodegradable and compostable materials? What do them actually mean? Which bin should I place them in?


different colours of bins
different colours of bins

Degradable

Degradable bags are made from plastic with other chemicals added (including heavy metals) that cause the plastic to break down and disintegrate over time when exposed to sunlight and heat.


plastic bags
plastic bags

If degradable bags are released into our environment they become quite problematic as they break down into hundreds of tiny pieces of plastic. Animals can consume smaller pieces of plastic more readily than they would if the bags were still whole. It is also much more difficult to remove hundreds of tiny pieces of plastic from the environment than it is to remove a single bag.


plastic bag in ocean
plastic bag in ocean

So which bin? Degradable bags should only be used for and placed into your residual waste bin.


residual waste bin
residual waste bin

Biodegradable

“Biodegradable” is a term that has no official definition or requirements, often misleading brands, retailers and consumers. Simply put, something is “biodegradable” if it can be disintegrated by bacteria, fungi, or some other biological process. If you look at the word itself, the meaning is right there. “Bio” meaning “life,” “degrade” meaning to break down, and “able” of course meaning that it can happen. Biodegradation is basically just the process of nature taking its course and breaking down materials to their parts. Pretty simple, right?


Anything biodegradable will break down quickly and safely into mostly harmless compounds. But what makes a substance biodegradable? Anything that is plant-based, animal-based or natural mineral-based product is usually biodegradable. However, they will break down at different rates depending on the original material it’s made out of and how much it has been processed.


Biodegradable products are anything that undergoes degradation resulting from the action of naturally occurring microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and algae. Although quickly is not defined biodegradable products are broken in way less time than non-biodegradable products.


Biodegradable objects can be much more than plants, as most people assume. It can be papers, boxes, bags, and other items that have all been created with the ability to slowly break down until they’re able to be consumed on a microscopic level.


The truth is that lots of things are biodegradable if given enough time. Plastics, in particular, are known to take decades o