Let us take a look into Compostable vs Biodegradable vs Recyclable and see what they mean. Having in mind the ecological disaster we live in, it is important to find practical solutions to everyday issues. Among the biggest problems, we face today is plastic pollution. We see and use plastic in almost all items of our daily life. Due to which, it has a vast impact on the environment and leads to pollution.
Now, some of the plastic can’t be recycled (and some can only be recycled twice or thrice). Also, in order to biodegrade plastic, it can take centuries which again makes its effects too big in the long-term. Knowing this we are rethinking the usage of all kinds of materials and their environmental impact. In order to be completely aware of this, we have to have a complete understanding of the frequently used terms such as “biodegradable”, “recyclable”, and “compostable”.
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Compostable vs Biodegradable vs Recyclable:
Now, let us see what they mean and how they impact our environment and life.
What is Recyclable?
Recycling is one of the three major principles of the circular economy commonly known as the three R’s: reduce, reuse and recycle. They impregnate the idea of a society without consumerism which as we come to realize is very difficult to achieve. Recycling by definition means treating or processing a material so that it can be reused. The whole idea contains in the name because the item gets back in the cycle of usage.
Different materials can be recycled a different number of times. For example, glass can be recycled an infinite number of times. There are a lot of materials that can be recycled such as paper, textiles, metal, and electronics. Nevertheless, recycling needs the energy to work. Also, nowadays because of the countless researches scientists are realizing that perhaps recycling is not the best way to go. This is because there are still too many products that are not used even after recycling.
When it comes to “biodegradable” and “compostable”, companies often are using the terms interchangeably but the truth is they are not at all synonyms. Despite certain similarities in the meaning, they point to a different concept and explain two different ways a product is breaking down.
What is Biodegradable?
Biodegradable means that a certain product can break down by microorganisms like bacteria and fungi. It then turns into carbon dioxide, water, and biomass in a few months for some products and some can take years. It is a completely natural process happening every day around us. This is why it depends on environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, and so on.
What is Compostable?
The similarity between Compostable and Biodegradable materials comes from the fact that both kinds of materials fall apart in the end and serve as biomass. The main and most important difference is the fact that compostable items characterized by a time limit up to which the product needs to break down. This limit is 12 weeks or 90 days. Another difference might be the usage of special containers which would also influence the conditions under which a certain product is breaking down. This method is extremely beneficial because it fertilizes the soil. Also, it doesn’t require any energy in order to succeed.
Now, not all products can be recycled, biodegraded or composted even though we make a lot of effort to achieve that. A good question to ask at this moment is what happens with all other products? The ones that can’t be returned back in the usage cycle and can’t be used to enrich the soil? Well, different countries have different ways of dealing with that issue. Although, burning waste is still a practice in a lot of countries many of them are trying to come up with creative solutions that would bring a positive use out of waste and won’t pollute nature but still will allow them to free space. A good example is Vancouver, which recently decided to turn its facilities into waste-to-energy ones which allow it to power up to 16000 homes a year with electricity just out of trash.
So, I think now you know a little bit about compostable vs biodegradable vs recyclable. In order to make reasonable and smart choices when investing our money into products. We have to be up to date with the different terms and concepts they perceive. The era we live in, the most useful way we can fight the environmental pollution is with our money and for what we spend them.
Do let me know what you think in the comments below.