What are Compostable Materials?


Compostable materials are those that may decompose into natural elements in a compost environment via a biological process while causing no harm to the environment. This breakdown produces humus, a material that is useful to plants. Typically, these biodegradable materials require a specific amount of time and heat exposure before bacteria can break them down properly.

Compostable materials are classified into two categories:

Green: This group includes nitrogen-rich materials such as grass clippings, leftover coffee grounds, and fruit and vegetable scraps. These things decompose quickly and help in the retention of moisture in the compost.

Brown: This category comprises carbon-rich materials such as paper, cardboard, prunings, and yard waste. These degrade at a slower rate, and shredding or tearing them into tiny pieces is recommended for successful composting.

Difference Between Biodegradable Vs Compostable Materials 

Biodegradable materials break down over time into generally harmless chemicals. They typically come from plant, animal, or natural mineral sources, and the rates at which they break down vary. While there is no set period for biodegradable things to degrade, they decompose far faster than non-biodegradable alternatives, such as plastic.

Compostable things degrade into natural elements in a compost setting without damaging the environment in around 90 days. To be labeled compostable, a product must meet ASTM standards D6400 and D6868, which ensure that it biodegrades within 90 days without leaving harmful residue. These guidelines also ensure that the finished compost is not harmful to plants. Compost bins are the ideal place to dispose of compostable packaging.

Though both compostable and biodegradable materials disintegrate, there is a substantial difference between the two. Every compostable material is biodegradable, however, not all biodegradable materials are compostable. Biodegradable materials can degrade and sometimes leave leftovers in the environment. Compostable on the other hand, form humus, a nutrient-rich substance that benefits plants by enriching the soil and encouraging plant and tree growth.

While the ideal biodegradable material decomposes fast and harmlessly, not all biodegradable goods achieve these requirements. Simply labeling a product as biodegradable might be confusing and may lead to consumer confusion. Biodegradable products, due to their broad nature, may damage compost quality and should normally be dumped alongside conventional garbage intended for landfills.

Also Read: Is PVC Biodegradable: Unveiling the Environmental Impact

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