Distinguishing Between Degradable, Biodegradable & Compostable Plastic

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Distinguishing Between Degradable, Biodegradable & Compostable Plastic

Degradable plastic

To put it simply, degradable just means that something breaks down. The trick here is that actually, every type of plastic breaks down into smaller pieces. The difference is, that it doesn’t “go back to the Earth” – it just decomposes into tiny pieces which are still plastic. Degradable bags don’t break down into water, carbon dioxide and biomass, although we often think they do. Keep in mind: a label “degradable” doesn’t actually mean anything, since the bags never disintegrate.

Biodegradable plastic

When a plastic is biodegradable, it can be ingested, which means it can become part of other living organisms. That’s the core difference between the two types of plastic: degradable bags are oil-based and only break down through chemical reactions instead of the activity of microorganisms like fungi or bacteria. For any product to be biodegradable it needs to completely break down and return to nature without harming it. Biodegradable plastic bags are usually made from plant or animal sources.

Compostable plastic

Compostable plastic is something we rarely hear about – it‘s considered the “greener” alternative of biodegradable plastic. To be deemed compostable, plastic must be able to break down into carbon dioxide, water and biomass at the same rate as paper. Also, it should not harm plant life in any way and it should not release any metals or toxins into the compost. A key to understanding compostable plastic is to be able to clearly distinguish it from biodegradable plastic. The main difference is that the former breaks down into humus, providing nutrients to the soil, whereas the latter simply return to nature and disintegrate.

By using sustainable waste bags or packaging, your business can substantially reduce its carbon footprint, which sets a great example for other businesses and consumers. It’s up to us to protect the environment and we can’t spend time relying on others to take the lead – which is why you can choose from our variety of biodegradable bags and packaging supplies! Trust us: it can only bring benefits to your business.


Posted: Monday 25 January 2016