Glossary: Biodegradable vs Compostable

What is the difference between biodegradable and compostable?


Biodegradable packaging decomposes in the presence of microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, and sunlight over a period of time that is not fixed. Biodegradable material may leave some toxic elements in the soil. Anything plant-based, animal-based or natural-mineral based is usually considered biodegradable. Paper, cardboard and some types of plastic are considered biodegradable.


Compostable packaging decomposes under the same conditions usually within a period of 90 days. Compostable waste is rich in nutrients and leaves no toxic elements, making it a great fertiliser. Paper, natural fabrics and wood is completely compostable.

Decomposition Time for Different Materials