Understanding the difference between compostable and biodegradable packaging

In recent years, consumers have become increasingly aware of sustainability and the importance of being environmentally friendly. Thus, people being attracted to brands that stand for something bigger than just a profit margin. It’s essential when you own a business not just to talk the talk but to walk the walk when it come to valuing the environment. With Australia generating up to 4.4 million tonnes of packaging waste in a year, it’s time for our businesses to take some action!

A simple yet very effective way to make your business ‘green’ is through the implementation of bio-plastic packaging. A bio-plastic is a substance made from organic biomass renewable resources such as plant oil, cellulose, starches, sugars, carbohydrates, bacteria and algae whereas conventional plastics are made from fossil resources (oil and gas). The products of bio-plastics typically results in less carbon dioxide than that of conventional plastics. Bio-plastics also known as compostable packaging can typically be put under the same umbrella as biodegradable packaging, however, this is not the case.

Image result for compostable plastics symbol

So, what is the difference between ‘compostable’ packaging and ‘biodegradable’ packaging?

Compostable packaging will completely decompose in a compost environment within 120 days leaving nutrient rich humus with no toxic residue. This is an effective option to break-down the product to ensure limited environmental impact. Whereas, a biodegradable product can take sufficient amount of time to break down and can have a significant impact on the environment during this process. Many ‘biodegradable’ products use the term simply as a marketing ploy to advertise themselves as environmentally friendly. Unlike certified compostable products, in Australia and New Zealand there are no industry standards required to describe a product as biodegradable.

Image result for compostable packaging

To make your business ‘green’ it’s important to do your research on the packaging options that you can implement within your business. If it’s classified as biodegradable, you should ensure it is a certified product. At the end of the day, your best bet is to stick with a product that is a certified compostable product.