Compostable, Biodegradable and Zero Waste Explanation

Release time:2023-10-13 Number of views: 142

One of the fastest growing food service trends is a shift from traditional disposables and food service products to environmentally friendly products. When looking for eco-friendly products for your restaurant, you may come across terms like "biodegradable," "compostable," and "compostable." We explain the difference between biodegradable, compostable and compostable products, and how your restaurant can achieve zero waste using environmentally friendly disposables.

Biodegradable, compostable and compostable: What's the difference?

Biodegradable, compostable and compostable products are made from different materials and deteriorate in different environments. We detail the meaning of each material to help you make an informed decision when buying green disposable tableware for your business.

What does biodegradable mean?

Biodegradable refers to products that are broken down into natural elements, carbon dioxide and water vapor by organisms such as bacteria and fungi. Almost everything is technically biodegradable, although most things take hundreds of thousands of years to biodegrade.


In order to receive a biodegradable label, products and materials must quickly decompose into natural materials. Third-party certification bodies typically limit the acceptable time of failure to between six and nine months.

Why shouldn't biodegradable products go into landfills

While biodegradable products are an environmentally friendly option for restaurants, there are some drawbacks. When biodegradable products are dumped into landfills (when they are thrown in the bin), they usually end up buried. The good bacteria buried under the garbage cannot survive because there is very little oxygen.


As a result, the biodegradable product breaks down under anaerobic conditions, i.e. without oxygen, resulting in the production of methane, a greenhouse gas that is harmful to the environment. Some landfills collect methane from landfills and use it to generate electricity, but most do not.


How to dispose of biodegradable products

Since biodegradable products in landfills produce harmful methane, it is best to dispose of them in a commercial compost heap or send them to a recycling plant. You can also check if there is a biogas plant in your area that uses biodegradable products to produce methane, which is then used to generate electricity.

What is compostable?

Compostable means that the product can be broken down into natural elements, but only in a compost environment. Compostable materials are usually made from plants and other organic materials, such as cornstarch, bagasse or PLA plastic. Compostable products have two additional benefits compared to biodegradable products: they break down faster, many in about 90 days, and they also break down into nutrient-rich products that create healthy soil for the planet.

How to dispose of compostable products

In order for compostable products to decompose properly, they need to be thrown into the compost pile. Compost piles are rich in microbes and reach high temperatures, causing products to decompose quickly. These types of products do not decompose easily in traditional landfills, so compostable products should not be thrown in the trash. While many compostable products mimic the appearance of plastic, they should not be recycled.

Why shouldn't you recycle compostable products

Compostable product is not recyclable, and if compostable product enters your restaurant's recycling process, it can contaminate and ruin the rest of your batch. If you use compostable products in fast food restaurants or food trucks, you should alert customers so that they dispose of them properly.

What do you mean biodegradable?

Biodegradable products are mainly oil-based products, which are broken down organically by chemical reactions rather than by microorganisms. Unlike biodegradable products, degradable plastic products can be broken down in anaerobic environments such as landfills.


However, biodegradable products do not completely break down and turn into organic materials. Instead, they break down into tiny pieces, but still affect the environment. For example, some plastics can degrade and turn into small pieces that can be ingested by animals, causing major problems in the food chain. Product degradation usually takes much longer than the breakdown of biodegradable or compostable items.

What are oxidation-degraded plastics?

Oxidation-degradable plastics are composed of petroleum-based polymers and additives such as metal salts that speed up their degradation process. In a ventilated, hot and bright environment, oxidative degradation products break down into small microplastic fragments in a short time. However, oxidative degradation products are not biodegradable or compostable and do not break down to the molecular level.

Oxidative degradation and oxidative biodegradation

Oxidative degradation products and oxidative biodegradation products are very similar, but some oxidative biodegradation products have the potential to break down into natural substances in the compost environment, while oxidative degradation products do not. Below we clearly outline the similarities and differences between oxidative degradation products and oxidative biodegradation products.

Similarities between oxidable degradation and oxidable biodegradation:


Both contain metal additives that allow them to break down into microplastic fragments without the help of microbes.


Both require microbes to degrade the pieces of microplastic they break down into.


Both require UV light and oxygen to break down and do not break down in landfills where waste accumulates.


Differences between oxidative degradation and oxidative biodegradation:

Some oxidative biodegradable products have the potential to biodegrade in compost environments, while conventional oxidative biodegradable products do not.

What is zero waste?

Zero waste is a concept that aims to follow a sustainable natural cycle, in which all waste materials are used for other purposes, thus generating no waste that goes into landfills or incinerators. The goal of zero waste is not to send products to recycling plants and compost piles instead of landfills, but to use all products, thereby eliminating waste. While many people across the country are opting for a zero-waste lifestyle at home, there are also strategies you can implement in a restaurant to create a zero-waste kitchen.

How to achieve zero waste

The first step in creating a zero waste kitchen is to determine how much food you currently waste and how much waste you produce. From there, you can decide where to make adjustments to limit food waste. One of the best ways to calculate how much food you waste is to conduct a food waste audit.


To conduct a food waste audit, have your staff track the amount of food entering the restaurant as well as the amount of food that is thrown away. This can help you see if you need to reduce shipments, change how you store produce, or adjust your menu. Another major source of kitchen waste is disposable items such as plastic cups, disposable plates, straws, napkins, and packaging.

Zero Waste Tips

If you're interested in turning your restaurant into a zero waste kitchen, here are some helpful tips for reducing waste and repurplacing products.


  1. Find unique ways to use food scraps in your kitchen, such as using vegetable scraps and peels to make vegetable soup.


  1. Donate excess food to local food banks and food scraps to farms for use as animal feed.


  1. Use leftover meat and vegetables in soups and stews.


  1. Replace disposable plates and bowls with melamine or porcelain.


  1. Replace napkins with reusable cloth napkins.


  1. Eliminate plastic straws.


  1. Choose environmentally friendly cleaning products and chemicals.


  1. Take leftover waste to a commercial compost pile instead of throwing it away.


While biodegradable, compostable and compostable items share many similarities in terms of structure and appearance, they are very different and have very different impacts on the environment. If you're looking for disposable items that can help you transform your kitchen to zero waste, compostable items are a perfect choice because they're sustainable, they turn into safe organic materials, and they break down quickly.

The Best Eco-Friendly Plastic Products

Okay, so you've thought about all of the above, and now you want some bags that meet high standards for the environment and can reduce your carbon footprint (if handled properly). We've got you covered.


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We are committed to pioneering high-quality biodegradable solutions that promote environmental sustainability. With our advanced technology and dedicated workforce, we strive to lead the industry in providing eco-friendly alternatives for a greener future.

Thank you for your interest in our company and products. We welcome any inquiries and look forward to collaborating with you on environmentally responsible solutions.