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Difference between Biodegradable and Compostable

Posted by: | Posted on: December 17, 2020

It is common to get confused about the difference between compostable and biodegradable materials. While all compostable products are biodegradable, not all biodegradable products are compostable. The main differences are related to the production materials, how they decompose, and their residuals after decomposition. This article highlights some main differences between the two.

Composition: Compostable products are specifically made up of organic matter; like cornstarch, sugarcane, potato starch, and others. Recently, researchers have discovered a synthetic substance called PVOH or Polyvinyl alcohol that will dissolve in water after reuse, leaving only water and CO2.

Biodegradable products are made of Poly (Butylene Adipate-Co-Terephthalate) (PBAT), Poly (Butylene Succinate) (PBS), Polylactic Acid (PLA), Polycaprolactone (PCL).

Degradation: Compostable products are capable of breaking down into natural elements in a compost environment without causing any harm. Compostable products undergo degradation by biological processes to yield CO2, water, inorganic compounds, and biomass leaving no visible, distinguishable or toxic residue.

Biodegradable products have been produced with the ability to slowly break down to be consumed on a microscopic level. They experience degradation following the action of naturally occurring microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and algae.

Degradation time: 90% of compostable products degrade within a span of 180 days precisely in a compost environment.

Biodegradable plastics usually take three to six months to decompose; much quicker than regular plastic which takes hundreds of years.

Benefits over one another: Compostable products consume less water, need less energy, and emit fewer greenhouse gases during the manufacturing process. They are environmental friendly and cause no harm to soil and plants.

Unlike compostable products, biodegradable products don’t need a specific environment to degrade; they just depend on the temperature, moisture, and time.

Examples

Compostable products include compostable paper products, clamshells, plates, bowls, cups, utensils, films and bags.

Biodegradable products include biodegradable plastic bags, plastic packaging, and plastic trays.

The trend of using innovative disposable materials in the UAE is on the vogue. Certain plastic companies are now producing creatively designed compostable food packaging and biodegradable packaging in Dubai to facilitate hassle-free eco-friendly gatherings.





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