Difference Between Compostable Bags and Biodegradable Bags

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Compostable and biodegradable are terms used when describing organic materials breaking down in a specific environment. These two terms are commonly used to define environmentally friendly plastic bags. It is important to know their difference before you make any purchase plan or start a new business.

Compostable – Highly Recommended

Compostable bags are produced from natural plant products such as corn starch and provide nutrition to micro-organisms that live in compost. Microbes use them as food and break them down without destroying the natural process of compost. The green compostable bags can totally break down in the compost heap within 6 weeks. Compostable bags should be stored under cool, dry conditions. If not, they start breaking down prematurely!

In order to be recovered by means of organic recycling (composting) a material or product needs to be biodegradable.

Don’t stock too many compost bags. You can order more when you almost finish the stock.

Biodegradable – A Misused Term

Biodegradable means a material is capable of undergoing biological anaerobic or aerobic degradation leading to the production of CO2, H2O, methane, biomass, and mineral salts, depending on the environmental conditions of the process. However, unlike compostable, the term biodegradable means very little as everything is biodegradable given time.

This term is very often misused in advertising of products and materials that are not actually environmentally friendly. The State of California has banned the use of the terms “biodegradable”, “degradable” or “decomposable” or any combination of those terms because of all the abuse. We only uses the term “Compostable” to market our products. All of our products are certified compostable.

compostable bags versus biodegradable bags

Oxo Degradable – Worse Than Conventional Plastic

Many plastic products that DO NOT and CAN NOT meet the compostability standards have labeled themselves Oxo-Degradable. These plastics are mainly based on polyethylene and contain additives that cause the plastic to break into tiny pieces. The additives are typically organic compounds of transition metals (such as cobalt, iron, nickel, and manganese).

Oxo-degradable plastics are not compostable, according to European standard EN13432 and U.S. standard ASTM 6400.

Oxo-degradable plastics are even worse than regular plastics because it is neither compostable nor recyclable.