What is the difference between biodegradable bags and compostable bags?

Release time:2023-09-22 Number of views: 380

Biodegradable bags and compostable bags are often thought of as being the same thing, but there are actually some important differences between the two. Both types of bags are designed to break down naturally over time, reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. However, there are some distinct characteristics and processes involved that set them apart. In this article, we will explore the differences between biodegradable bags and compostable bags to help you understand which option is the better choice for your needs.

Biodegradable bags are made from materials that can naturally decompose over a period of time. These materials typically include plant-based substances such as cornstarch, sugarcane, or potato starch. When these bags are disposed of in landfills, they will eventually break down into smaller pieces due to the action of microorganisms, sunlight, and oxygen. This breakdown process can take several months to several years, depending on the specific conditions of the landfill.

Compostable bags, on the other hand, are made from materials that can biodegrade under specific conditions, known as composting. Composting is a process that breaks down organic materials into nutrient-rich soil called compost. Compostable bags are designed to break down in industrial composting facilities, where they can be subjected to higher temperatures and controlled conditions. These bags typically break down within a few months in the composting process.

One important distinction between biodegradable bags and compostable bags is their ability to break down in home composting systems. While compostable bags are specifically designed to break down in these systems, biodegradable bags may not decompose as efficiently. Biodegradable bags require specific conditions, such as higher temperatures and prolonged exposure to microorganisms, which are often not present in home composting setups. Therefore, if you are looking for an option that can be easily composted at home, compostable bags are the better choice.

Another difference between biodegradable and compostable bags lies in their environmental impact. While both options are beneficial in reducing the amount of waste ending up in landfills, compostable bags are often seen as the more environmentally friendly choice. Compostable bags break down into compost, a valuable resource that can be used to enrich soil and promote plant growth. This compost can then be used in gardens and agriculture, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers. Biodegradable bags, on the other hand, may leave behind smaller plastic particles known as microplastics, which can still have a negative impact on the environment.

It is also worth noting that the certifications and standards for biodegradable and compostable bags can vary. In some cases, manufacturers may claim their bags are biodegradable or compostable without meeting specific criteria. To ensure you are purchasing bags that truly meet the desired environmental standards, look for certifications such as the ASTM D6400 or EN13432 for compostable bags, or the ASTM D5511 or EN13432 for biodegradable bags.

In conclusion, while biodegradable bags and compostable bags have the common goal of reducing waste and environmental impact, there are important differences between the two. Biodegradable bags break down over time in landfills, while compostable bags are designed to break down in industrial composting facilities or home composting systems. Compostable bags are often considered more environmentally friendly, as they produce compost that can be used to enrich soil and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers. When choosing between the two options, consider your composting capabilities and desired environmental impact to make an informed decision.