COMPOSTABLE VS BIODEGRADABLE
“A biodegradable material is not necessarily compostable, but a compostable material is always biodegradable” - bagtoearth
“This product is degradable” = this product requires extensive chemical, mechanical or heated processing to break it down into smaller pieces of plastic. Degradable bags are a common form of commercial greenwashing that is just adding to the plastic problem. The smaller pieces remain in the environment for similar life spans to standard plastics and man-made materials, persisting and bioaccumulating for hundreds (++) of years.
“This product is biodegradable” = unless certified compostable (the terms are used interchangeably), this product is just another plastic, maybe mixed with plant matter. It may break down under natural environmental conditions, but it must be exposed to the air, UV, and will still take a very long time to break down – posing the same threat to marine life as standard plastics until then. Oxy-biodegradable plastics have just been banned from the EU for this reason.
“This product is commercially compostable” = this product is essentially the same as biodegradable. Under commercial conditions given enough heat, moisture, and microbes, it will turn into soil. Better than degradable, but may still persist in the environment for years if tossed out with the trash, and won’t break down in the ocean.
“This product is compostable” = IF, and only if certified with the compostable standards stamps AS4736 or EN13432, you’ve hit the jackpot. Lay the praise on that company, give them your everything. This plant-based product will break down in the environment in the same manner as plant matter and is exactly where we need to be headed. BEWARE – many products claim compostability, but without these stamps of approval are just more greenwashing, and likely still contain plastic.
And our favorite – “This product is water soluble” = sorry compostable, this one takes the cake. Project Blue is pushing for companies to consider water soluble packaging, as it is by far the ultimate answer to all of our problems. Currently made from PVA, (the same as that non-toxic glue we played with as kids!) or algae, this bad boy will literally dissolve in seawater, within a day. @Icebreaker has just announced water soluble bags to roll out next summer. Project Blue loves you!