COMPOSTABLE VS. BIODEGRADABLE

May 19th  3-minute read 

Compostable and biodegradable might sound similar but to most if we were to sit and consider the differences it might be hard to discern. Is one better than another are they truly similar? In a nutshell we try to crack the two terms to show you some characteristics of both and why DEW MIGHTY makes compostable its standard. 

Biodegradable was created to describe materials that break down in nature over time and is considered a generic term for anything that starts one size and will eventually shrink down in size regardless if the pieces fully incorporate into the earth (microplastics anyone?) and can also be considered toxic since material origin may be petroleum based or toxic as it breaks down. The Federal Trade Commission aka FTC writes their standard for “degradable” and often people lump in “biodegradable” into this category which describes “Items destined for landfills, incinerators, or recycling facilities will not degrade within a year…” Previous to the FTC marketing guidelines this term had no guide on timing so plastic manufacturers and marketers used biodegradable as a greenwashing technique regardless if it lived on this planet for hundreds or thousands of years before actually degrading.

  

On the flip side: compostable refers to materials that break down into the environment with a short measurable amount of time to decompose back into the environment in a nontoxic enriching way. Originally coined for organic materials like leaves and food scraps, these materials were often home processed by individuals with a bin filled with organisms and soil. Within the last few years more companies have been innovating in mixed materials and other bioplastics that can claim compostable in an institutional facility. For labeled compostable products that are not fully comprised of organic matter or considered “mixed materials” there is now testing available and standards created by ASTM International. There are 2 main testing standards to consider ASTM D6400/ASTM D6400 and read a bit more from the references if you are interested to learn more. These standards require an industrial facility due to accelerated heat and churn for the ability to compost properly. For anyone overwhelmed by the thought of composting at home (us included!) many waste companies offer it along with their green waste disposals. We plan to cover more on this topic on another article but this small change alone makes a great impact on managing our landfill waste in a positive way.

 

 

When these two terms are stacked side by side composting turns materials back into nutrient rich soil. This is something we can stand behind. Our BLOOM (NOURISH + CALM) Jelly Serum Bar packaging was exclusively developed for us to encompass all organic materials including FTC sourced paper, water-based inks, and veggie-based coating. Paired with its compact nature, our elimination of bottles and droppers, DEW MIGHTY proudly stands for the highest standard in sustainable Earth friendly skin care.

 

Great Additional Reads

https://www.astm.org/search/fullsite-search.html?query=compostable&

https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/environmental-claims-summary-green-guides

hs://www.betalabservices.com/biobased/astm-standards.html

https://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/100-things-you-can-compost

https://www.sustainablejungle.com/zero-waste/what-is-compostable/

http://www.bamco.com/blog/trash-talking-101-biodegradable-vs-compostable-other-disposable-terms/