Biodegradable vs Compostable

What is the difference between biodegradable and compostable? How is the correct disposal of the packaging based on the material it is made of?


Biodegradable and compostable are two terms that have now entered into our daily vocabulary with arrogance, and not only through the media. This massive use of ecologically-related words is due to the growing attention to the theme of recycling and the possibility of giving new post-consumer life to the materials which packaging of food and non-food products is made.


Now, more than ever, we have come to the shared awareness of the need for a “green“, ecological and sustainable turning point in the management of packaging materials. In this direction, in fact, move the new European directives on the replacement of disposable plastic materials with recyclable or reusable alternatives, “friends” of the environment.


The proposals are multiple and varied with products for disposable packaging in cellulose pulp, bamboo fiber, palm leaf and also supported by more imaginative proposals such as productions in bran, wheat, or vegetable waste (banana peel, pineapple, etc. .) that may even be edible. As well as materials such as recyclable plastic with low environmental impact, paper, cardboard, PLA…

But how clear is the difference between biodegradable and compostable?


Not only for the consumer, but also for those who pack the products and increasingly face specific requests that come directly from large-scale distribution, it is essential to be able to orientate between these types of materials.

Biodegradable is the material that can be broken down into simpler substances thanks to naturally occurring microorganisms, recreating a totally natural life cycle.

All that is completely natural origin is biodegradable, but the natural decomposition is different between material and material (wood, cellulose, paper, etc.) and, to correctly report the biodegradable status, the material must perform a decomposition of at least 90% within 6 months, according to European directives.

Instead, the material that after the degradation process, natural or industrial, is transformed into compost – a substance similar to soil – which is then used as a fertilizer of agricultural land, to which it provides valuable organic matter, is defined as compostable; the decomposition of this type of material, to be defined compostable, must take place within 3 months.

To make it clearer: a package made of biodegradable material should be thrown into the plastic collection. A pack made of compostable material should instead be thrown into the wet / organic.


Biodegradable and compostable are certainly NOT synonymous!

These materials must be clearly recognizable even through the use of the appropriate symbols that attest to the type and therefore guide them to correct disposal once the product contained has been consumed.


It’s therefore evident how important the correct communication about packaging on packaging itself is, to respond to the new demands of large-scale distribution and to support the consumer in implementing the right behavior, taking part in the circular economy.

That’s why Thinkersoup is here: creating the best packaging for your fruit and vegetable produce, optimized in materials, functionality and communication!



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