Biodegradable vs compostable vs recyclable – The main differences

Zero Waste Shop by EcoPanda

Global pollution makes more and more people pay attention to everyday shopping choices, food packaging, and waste sorting. But even if you feel eco-conscious, are you sure… what does biodegradable mean? Can you distinguish such materials from compostable ones? Biodegradable, compostable and recyclable refer to different material properties and a completely different way of processing. Be an environment-friendly consumer and do not let yourself be misled!

Do you ever wonder… what does biodegradable mean?

Biodegradable materials can disintegrate into natural substances, for example, water, carbon dioxide, and other natural minerals. This means, that eventually the whole product is safely mixed back into the environment. The process does not leave any toxic wastes, is a sense of chemicals or other harmful substances, however… Some of the commonly used materials can decompose over many years! These include among other steel products and some plastics – their breakdown must be preceded by additional processes, such as rusting.

Also, the conditions are essential to perform biodegradation. Some elements can relatively easily biodegradable, including food leftovers, paper, or wood element. But many other plastics require controlled processing conditions, even burning in the temperature of 140 Fahrenheit degrees for ten consecutive days. Unfortunately, there are not enough places like this, in comparison to the amount of waste we still produce. What will lead you another question… Do you know, what does compostable mean?

What does compostable mean?

Customers often do not understand the differences between biodegradable and compostable materials. Especially, that companies are also misleading, giving on their products some meaningless markings – biobased, biological, environmentally and earth-friendly or many others.

Compostable means that you can easily place compostable materials in the home composter or bury them into the garden. After a few weeks, you will be able to check, that nothing left after your wastes. Under the influence of weather conditions and with the participation of bacteria, the material decomposes into the original form and returns to the soil. And you can later even fertilize your plants with such a compost! Choosing compostable products, packages, and materials are certainly one of the best solutions for waste reducing. So in this case, is it better to avoid recyclable products at all? Surely, you absolutely want to know, what does recyclable mean!

Recyclable items – what does recyclable mean?

Recyclable products can be industrially transformed into new materials and objects. Recycling requires a certain amount of work but helps reduce greenhouse gas emission, energy consumption, or air and water pollution. Furthermore, it can prevent potentially useful materials from wasting and reduce consumption of fresh raw materials.

It belongs to one of the most complicated ways of waste processing but allows to transform a large amount of different things. Recyclable materials include many types of glass, paper, and cardboard, metal and plastics items, textiles or even tires, batteries and electronic, also consisting from toxic particles.

Recyclable refers to many processes and also includes already mentioned biodegradable and compostable. With such knowledge, you will certainly consider what does recyclable mean… in this specific case.

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