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Biodegradable vs Oxo-Biodegradable vs Compostable

What are Biodegradable products?

A lot of people still don’t know what Biodegradable means. For most people, it’s just a fancy label seen every now and then on a product at the store. However, as our ever increasing population adds more and more trash into the ground each year, this term and concept becomes more important. ┬áBiodegradable means that a certain object or product has the ability of being decomposed by living things or bacteria.

“Biodegradable means that a certain object or product has the ability of being decomposed by living things or bacteria.”

So some products can be simply thrown into soil and buried and they may completely decompose in 30 days to a few months. Sure, it may seem long, but when you consider that products made out of plastic take over a thousand years to decompose, you can start seeing the value in biodegradable products. Biodegradable products are more efficient and eco-friendly. Companies that manufacture biodegradable products often use renewable resources and produce lower emissions as well.biodegradation cycle

What does Oxo-Biodegradable mean?

To add to the confusion, a similar term “Oxo-Biodegradable” is often slapped on some products. ┬áPeople mistake the two terms for being one and the same thing. “Oxo-Biodegradable plastic uses metal salts to start degradation and to speed up the process, which result in extremely small fragments of plastic that no longer “visually” pollute the environment”. Further degradation depends on living organisms and bacteria. Products using this plastic typically don’t break down fully in normal landfills. ┬áThis may be due a lack of oxygen. Also, as another negative, some oxo-biodegradable plastics use Cobalt and carries the risk of further environment pollution.

What does Compostable mean?

Compostable and Biodegradable, are terms that are often interchanged. Compostable simply means being able to be used as compost.

Compostable simply means being able to be used as compost.

Compost (for example dead leaves, or manure) are decaying organic substances which can be used as fertilizer.

There is a Difference

When you are in the store, remember that there is a difference between biodegradable and oxo-biodegradable. Both affect the environment in different ways. Biodegradable products are actually environmentally safe and typically reduce the pollution. Where as oxo-biodegradable products may actually cause further pollution. There are a lot of products, which are biodegradable that can be bought at the store. These include trash bags, straws, and even shoes & watches!

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  • Thankful

    That was really helpful!!! Thanks so much for the breakdown of the different terms. Almost made a huge mistake so thank you!