Compostable vs. Biodegradable | What's The Difference Between Compostable and Biodegradable?

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Compostable and biodegradable are two words that are often used interchangeably when discussing sustainable living. But there is a really big difference between these two terms and in order to understand the difference, we will break down what each word means.

Read: How to Make an Outdoor Compost Bin for FREE


What's The Difference Between Compostable and Biodegradable?

What Does Biodegradable Mean?

Biodegradable is the term used to describe anything that will break down quickly and safely into the earth by decomposing into earth safe compounds. Most things that are biodegradable are plant based, animal based or natural-mineral based products. However, it is important to note that the break down process will happen at different rates depending on the original material it is made out of and the amount of material used.

What is Considered Biodegradable?

  • Paper

  • Natural Fabrics

  • Vegetable Scraps

  • Eggshells

  • Biodegradable Detergent Soap

  • Bamboo

What Does Compostable Mean?

The term compostable means that a product is able to break down into its natural components in a compost-friendly environment such as a compost bin. Because of this process, the break down of these products have no harm on the environment and is completely safe. This process can take up to 90 days so make sure to get yourself a great compost bin.

What is Considered Compostable?

  • Fruits and Veggie Scraps

  • Old Bread, Crackers or Cereal

  • Liquid from Canned Fruits and Veggies

  • Old Herbs and Spices

  • Coffee Grounds

  • Tea and Teabags

What's The Difference Between Compostable and Biodegradable?

As you can see, it is pretty understandable why these two terms are so easily mixed up but ultimately there is a difference between them. While all compostable material is biodegradable, not all biodegradable material is compostable. Although biodegradable materials return to nature and can sometimes disappear completely, they sometimes leave behind a residue. On the other hand, compostable materials normally create something called humus which is full of nutrients and great for plants.

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