What is a compostable product? What does it mean, and how can we know if all biodegradable plastics are compostable? In this article, we will briefly discuss the different definitions of compostability, and clear up the confusion between the degradability of each meaning.
Compostable: Products that break down and are returned to nature with a human intervention during the end of life treatment. Within a specific timeframe, the product will start to disintegrate and biodegrade without any toxic effects on the environment.
Commercially Compostable: Products that break down leaving no trace but only when placed in a dedicated composting facility using intense heat during a specific period to help microbes break down the material.
Home Compostable: Products that break down by themselves in a natural environment within 12-18 weeks in any conditions where microorganisms and oxygen is present.
Biodegradable: Products that can break down by natural processes in anywhere from 6 months to 1000 years without any human intervention, timeframe or toxicity measurements.
Degradable: Can be broken down into micro fragments or powder. Degradable does not necessarily mean the material will return to nature. All plastic is considered degradable.
Oxo-Degradable: A product that breaks down in the presence of oxygen into tiny pieces that may then slowly biodegrade. Oxo-degradable plastics generally degrade more slowly than compostable materials, but disintegrate too fast to be recyclable. This term does not mean the material will return to nature.
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