Compostable Vs Biodegradable Bags: The Main Differences?

compostable vs biodegradable bags-min

The two products "biodegradable bags" and "compostable bags" are very similar, but they are often used interchangeably, incorrectly, or misleadingly, which adds a layer of uncertainty to anyone trying to shop sustainably.

To make a truly earth-friendly choice, it’s important to understand what biodegradable and compostable bags are, their respective pros and cons, and how they differ. This article will answer these questions for you in detail. If you are interested in this topic, please read this article patiently!

Table of contents for this article

  1. Overview: What are Compostable Bags
  2. What Are the Advantages of Compostable Bags?
  3. What Are the Disadvantages of Compostable Bags?
  4. Overview: What are Biodegradable Bags
  5. What Are the Advantages of Biodegradable Bags?
  6. What Are the Disadvantages of Biodegradable Bags?
  7. The Main Differences Between Compostable Bags and Biodegradable Bags
  8. Which Is Better, Compostable Bags or Biodegradable Bags?
  9. How Do I Choose Between the Two?
  10. Frequently Asked Questions
  11. Conclusion


Overview: What are Compostable Bags

Compostable bags, crafted from natural plant starch, epitomize an eco-friendly alternative, devoid of toxic byproducts. In stark contrast to plastic bags, compostable bags seamlessly break down in composting systems, fostering microbial activity that transforms them into enriching compost. The term "compostable" denotes an item capable of biodegrading under specific, human-driven conditions—a pivotal distinction from the entirely natural process of biodegradation.

Use compostable bags for trash


What Are the Advantages of Compostable Bags?

Break down within the time needed by the composting environment

Not release harmful toxins as it decomposes

Create healthy compost that enriches the soil


What Are the Disadvantages of Compostable Bags?

Composting requires certain conditions

Compostable bags cost more

Decomposition time is slow


Overview: What are Biodegradable Bags

Biodegradable bags are bags that can be broken down by bacteria or other organisms. Bioplastic is the material in biodegradable trash bags. Bioplastics are biopolymers that degrade faster than bio-based plastics.

Biodegradable trash bags are considered environmentally friendly because their plastic breaks down faster. Biodegradable trash bags are made from materials that break down into carbon dioxide, water and biomass.

The challenge with biodegradable materials is the temperature level required to break it down. Biodegradable materials require very high temperatures to break down, and these temperatures are not always as high in landfills.

This may result in biodegradable trash bags lasting longer than they claim unless they are sent to an industrial facility.

Naturally biodegradable food waste


What Are the Advantages of Biodegradable Bags?

Made from agricultural or recycled materials and can break down quickly

Biodegradable properties allow them to break down into harmless substances

Green and environmentally friendly, in line with the principles of circular economy

Suitable for a variety of applications including shopping bags, food packaging and waste disposal


What Are the Disadvantages of Biodegradable Bags?

Biodegradable bags have a shorter shelf life

Without proper sorting and handling, recycling streams may be contaminated

Biodegradable bags lack standardized regulations and certifications.


The Main Differences Between Compostable Bags and Biodegradable Bags

Criteria Compostable Bags Biodegradable Bags
Material Made from organic materials like cornstarch, sugarcane, or other plant-based sources. Made from a variety of materials, including traditional plastics with additives.
Breakdown Process Requires specific conditions like heat and microbial activity in industrial composting facilities. Breaks down into water, carbon dioxide, and organic matter. Breakdown can occur through exposure to sunlight, air, and moisture. Time frame and byproducts may vary.
Certification Standards Often certified by organizations like the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) or European Norm (EN) standards for compostability. The term "biodegradable" lacks standardized certification. Some certifications exist but may not guarantee specific environmental outcomes.
Environmental Impact Minimal impact when processed in industrial composting. Contributes to nutrient-rich compost. Impact can vary; breakdown may release harmful substances, and decomposition time is unpredictable.


Which Is Better, Compostable Bags or Biodegradable Bags?

Hold this flowerpot with both hands

Compostable and biodegradable bags are both capable of breaking down naturally. But one thing to note is that compostable bags are biodegradable, and biodegradable bags are not compostable.

This difference highlights the superiority of compostable bags, making choosing compostable bags the best choice.

Additionally, modifiers like "meticulously tested," "superior eco-friendly qualities," and "prudent choice" enhance the positive attributes of compostable bags. These adjectives emphasize the reliability and environmental benefits of compostable bags over plastic and even biodegradable options.


How Do I Choose Between the Two?

Conditions Compostable Bags Biodegradable Bags
Access to Waste Facilities Industrial composting facilities available General waste disposal facilities
Local Regulations Compliance with local composting regulations Adherence to waste management guidelines
Intended Use Organic waste collection (food scraps, yard waste) General waste disposal, versatile use
Certifications Certifications like "ASTM D6400" or "EN 13432" Certifications ensuring biodegradability (e.g., "ASTM D5511")
Breakdown Time Typically faster breakdown (weeks to months) Breakdown time may vary, possibly longer
Environmental Impact Yields nutrient-rich compost Breaks down into natural elements
Awareness of Breakdown Time Conscious of relatively faster breakdown time Comfortable with potential longer breakdown time
Versatility Tailored for composting environments Breaks down in various environments, including non-composting ones


Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Is biodegradable more eco-friendly than compostable?

No, a biodegradable product is not necessarily better for the environment than a compostable product. That's because biodegradable products can still be made of chemical plastics whereas compostable products are typically made from plants. Plus, compostable products can take less time to break down, but they must be kept in the right conditions.

Q: Can you put biodegradable bags in your compost bin?

You should use only compostable bags in the compost bin. Biodegradable bags are not necessarily compostable and could still be made of plastic.

Q: How long do compost bags take to break down?

There are many factors that decide how long it takes compost bags to break down. Most are designed to disintegrate between three and six months.

Q: What are the problems with biodegradable plastics?

Bioplastics can produce the greenhouse gas methane when sent to landfills. They also don't break down in marine environments, despite the fact that a large portion of plastics wind up in oceans.



All in all, compostable bags are a great choice. If you are a retailer or want to resell compostable bags, then we can help.

We are a top compostable bag manufacturer specializing in customizing and wholesale of various compostable bags for businesses. If you want to purchase compostable bags in bulk from factories, then you can contact us. Or visit our website!

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