Difference Between Biodegradable and Compostable

Release time:2023-11-03 Number of views: 116

Have you ever picked up a product labeled "biodegradable" or "compostable" and wondered what it means? You're not alone!


The terms biodegradable and compostable are often used interchangeably. While there is some overlap, they don't mean the same thing!


All compostable products are biodegradable, but not all biodegradable products are compostable.


While it's great that sustainable products are growing in popularity, some of the terms used to describe them aren't always clear. Understanding the definitions of terms like compostable and biodegradable equips everyone with the knowledge to make sustainable choices.


It's important that both brands and consumers know the difference. Customers want to know they are making the best choice when purchasing products from you. Your customers need to know how to properly dispose of your packaging. Making it clear that your packaging is compostable boosts your confidence in your sustainable brand and allows consumers to make more informed purchasing decisions. SO, what difference between biodegradable and compostable?

Definition of compostable: What does compostable mean?

Compostable materials break down completely into their basic parts (water, carbon dioxide and biomass). They will break down in a timely manner at a rate consistent with similar organic materials and will not release harmful residues or toxins.


Products labeled as compostable must be tested to meet U.S. industrial composting standards ASTM D6400 and ASTM D6868. These standards require that compostable products biodegrade and break down within 90 days and leave no harmful residues. Testing includes seed germination tests to ensure that the resulting compost is not harmful to plant life.


Compostable products add value to the earth's ecosystem by breaking down into nutrient-rich compost. Packages labeled as compostable should be discarded in the compost bin.

Definition of biodegradable: What does biodegradable mean?

If something is biodegradable, it can be broken down by naturally occurring microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi. Given enough time (even centuries!) ), every material will biodegrade.


Unlike compostable, the term "biodegradable" is not regulated. There is no time limit for biodegradation, and no testing is done to ensure that the product is free of dangerous toxins. Ideally, biodegradable materials will break down quickly and safely, but not all products labeled as biodegradable meet these standards.


Labeling a product as biodegradable without any further clarification is ambiguous and can be misleading to consumers. Because the term is so vague, biodegradable products can contaminate compost and should be disposed of in waste collections destined for landfills.

Which is better, compostable or biodegradable?

Both terms describe the natural process of recycling organic waste. All compostable products are biodegradable, but biodegradable products are not always compostable.


The main difference is that compostable products are rigorously tested to ensure that they break down within a specific timeframe and do not release any harmful substances into the environment. Biodegradable products have no such requirements, which means they may not be as beneficial as they initially appear.


Compostable packaging will:


  1. Break down within the timeframe required by the composting environment
  2. Break down without releasing harmful toxins
  3. Create healthy compost that enriches the soil


Compostable packaging must adhere to strict standards and undergo rigorous testing. Packaging labeled only as biodegradable cannot be composted and therefore must be sent to a landfill.

Other Terms



The term biodegradable defines a large category of things that can break down and decompose. There are no standards for how it breaks down, how long it takes, or what it will break down into. It may be safe, but probably not.




The term oxo-degradable is simply "greenwashing". Oxo-degradable products are traditional plastics mixed with additives that help them break down faster. If you're familiar with the problems caused by microplastics, you'll realize that not only is this not a bad solution for plastic waste, but it's actually very harmful!


Once disposed of, plastic becomes brittle and quickly breaks into smaller and smaller pieces. Oxo-degradable products intentionally produce harmful microplastics !


Both biodegradable and oxo-degradable products are not compostable and are not suitable for recycling. They should be disposed of in landfills.

How to choose the most sustainable packaging

Understanding the nuances of the difference between "biodegradable" and "compostable" can be overwhelming at first, but once you're armed with this knowledge, your sustainable packaging decisions become clearer!


Every stage of the process, from raw material sourcing to product disposal, has a bearing on the environment. This is where a Product Life Cycle Assessment can be useful - it provides a view of a product's entire environmental journey, revealing areas of possible sustainable improvement.

The circular economy aims to eliminate waste and pollution, recycle materials and regenerate nature. What does the life cycle of compostable packaging look like? Choosing compostable packaging means you are helping to reduce waste and keep the soil healthy. We're here to help you make the most environmentally friendly choices. Together, we can move towards a world with less waste and more respect for the environment. So this is the difference between biodegradable and compostable.

The Best Eco-Friendly Garbage Bags

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.


Henan Techuang Biotechnology Co.,Ltd, the leading biodegradable resin and plastic bag manufacturer in China.


We are the largest producer of biodegradable products in China, with a total engineering area of 1000 acres and an annual production capacity of 120,000 tons. Our team comprises 150 highly skilled technical workers and research professionals.

Our flagship products include

Fully biodegradable modified resin

Fully biodegradable plastic bags

Fully biodegradable tableware and food container

LE/HDPE plastic bags


One-Stop Service

Finished product

Raw material


Technical/Service support

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.

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