Compostable vs. Biodegradable
“Biodegradable” only means that it will decompose by bacteria or other living organisms. There are no specifications on environments or timeframes for this decomposition. Technically speaking, many things are biodegradable, but the rate and success of decomposition depend on the specific environment and access to active bacteria or other organisms to break it down.
“Compostable”refers to a specific timeframe and environment that is validated by a set of standards from organizations like ASTM. These standards are designed to provide scientific verification that a material can safely break down in a commercial compost facility and will not negatively impact compost quality.
In this way, “biodegradable” is not an appropriate attribute for describing the end of life for products and packaging because it lacks specificity on timeframe and environment. This term is generic and misleading, which is why it is illegal to market products as “biodegradable” in 4 states.
Common Materials and Finished Products
Need for BPI Certification
Importance of Labeling Compostable Products