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What do Compostable and Biodegradable Mean?

Compostable means that a product is capable of disintegrating into natural elements like soil in a composting environment, leaving no toxicity in the soil.  This typically must occur in under 6 months in a commercial composting facility. 

Biodegradable refers to something that is capable of decomposition by natural elements and bacteria.

Some companies advertise their products as biodegradable only. This is not exactly a positive thing since technically, almost everything will biodegrade in 10,000 years. Some like plastic packaging however degrade into micro-plastics, another problem all together.

Basically, compostable products are also biodegradable, but biodegradable products are not necessarily compostable unless specifically stated or certified as such.

Beware of misleading product claims using the term “biodegradable”.

In California, there are strict laws governing the use of the terms “compostable” and “biodegradable” in order to protect consumers.  Some companies try to get around these laws by using language such as “bio-based”, “biological”, and “earth-friendly” in their marketing. 
We’ve found that many of the disposable tableware products with these misleading labels actually contain traditional petroleum-based plastic which means they are NOT compostable.  It is best to look for the words “compostable”, “BPI certified”, or “meets ASTM-D6400 standard”.
Here at Good Start Packaging, we source and sell sustainable packaging that is BPI Certified and meets FDA and ASTM-D6400 standards. 
Compostable products like fiber food containers, bioplastic PLA Cups and paper coffee cups with PLA linings will all compost in a few months in industrial composting facilities and reduce single-use plastics in landfills.  Other things like our BioBags can completely dissolve in home compost systems.


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