Making conscious choices about the packaging of your food and drinks is important. You probably already know that plastic is terrible for the environment. We are sure that most people really do care, but the topic gets confusing very quickly. Thanks to scientific advancements, some packaging materials are much safer than the conventional plastics derived from petroleum. These are called bioplastics. We are proud to use compostable bioplastic materials in our products. However, many people confuse the terms compostable with biodegradable. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between compostable bioplastics versus biodegradable plastics.
Compostable bioplastics are plastics that are made from plant biomass, such as corn starch, sugar cane or wheat, and should either completely and rapidly break down biologically, or be compostable. Compost is an extremely rich, fertile soil that can be used to improve the environment. Compostable bioplastics can break down into water, carbon dioxide, biomass, and inorganic compounds at the same rate as other compostable materials. It will not leave any toxic residue in compost bins. However, you must have the correct environment in your compost bin in order for the process to occur.
First of all, biodegradable plastics, like every regular plastic, need oil for their manufacturing, which pollutes the environment. Additional chemicals cause the plastic to break down more rapidly when exposed to air and light. Some biodegradable plastics fragment rather than biodegrade, due to the addition of oxidizing agents (found in “oxo-degradable plastics”). By fragmenting, rather than degrading, they break into small pieces which can pollute soils, increase risk of ingestion for animals and end up in our oceans and waterways. These kinds of plastics are impossible to recover for recycling and aren’t suitable for composting. The prefix “bio” can be very misleading: plastics do degrade, but not into something biological. It breaks into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic.
Being aware of the differences between compostable and biodegradable plastics can help you make an informed decision when purchasing products. Remember that biodegradable plastic does not always mean it will biodegrade quickly and completely. However, compostable bioplastics will break down like any other composting material, so using these products is the better choice.