Biodegradable, compostable and recyclable— what’s the difference? If you’ve ever had confusion about the three, you aren’t alone. To start, each recovery-process helps sustain the environment by lessening our dependence on local landfills, but in three different ways (each) with unique end products or benefits.
What is Recyclable?
This is probably the most familiar method of keeping valuable materials out of landfills. A recyclable product is an item that can be collected, separated or otherwise recovered from the waste stream to manufacture another product or for reuse. Basically, recyclable products can be turned into something new. Most plastics, glass, cardboard and metals are recyclable.
What is Biodegradable?
You may remember from high school geometry class that while every square is a rectangle, not every rectangle is a square. That’s a lot like the difference between the terms “biodegradable” and “compostable”. While everything that is compostable is biodegradable, not everything that is biodegradable is compostable.
Technically speaking, lots of things are biodegradable. That is because the term “biodegradable” has no time frame attached to it, meaning that if a given material will eventually break down, it can be described as biodegradable. The FTC’s Green Guide says a product is biodegradable as long as it “will completely break down and return to nature.” It needs to decompose into items found in nature and the process has to happen within a reasonably short amount of time. The item will continue to disintegrate into smaller and smaller pieces until micro-organisms (bacteria, fungi and algae) are able to eat it.
What is Compostable?
So, what can be composted? One way to remember is the phrase, ‘If it grows, it goes.’ Organic materials such as food scraps, yard trimmings and even food-soiled paper was once a living plant, therefore, it can be composted.
A simple explanation is that composting is Mother Nature’s way of recycling. Think about tree leaves; they fall and cover plants and tree roots, protecting them from frost and holding in water during drought. By spring, the leaves break down and become a natural fertilizer for the soil and surrounding plants. This perfect natural cycle repeats itself—no landfill needed.
The result of composting is a soil-conditioning fertilizer that helps soil retain water and grow vibrant, healthy plants without using chemicals. Composting organic materials also reduces the amount of trash sent to the landfill, which means residents can save money by downsizing their landfill trash carts.
Twist OP has a full line of Eco-friendly products to help you with the process of becoming sustainable. We are featuring products from Eco-Products and introducing our new line of compostable liners from PolyBest. Want to learn more, just give us a call there are numerous resources available.