1 September 2014

compostable versus biodegradable

Having added a couple of examples of bioplastics – see colourful moulded potato starch and water-soluble packaging peanuts – it's worth noting the difference between compostable and biodegradable. 

Compostable means they fulfil US and EU standards (ASTM 6400 and EN 13432, respectively) for degrading in composting conditions (more than 90% must be converted into carbon dioxide, water and biomass within 90 days), whereas biodegradable simply means the material can be broken down into carbon dioxide, water and biomass by micro-organisms within a reasonable length of time.

Image of ecoflex® granules (a partially bio-based polyester used in packaging applications that is fully biodegradable) courtesy of BASF.