Biodegradabile e compostabile: quali sono le differenze

Biodegradable and compostable: what are the differences?

The terms biodegradable and compostable are confused and considered synonymous: in reality there is a big difference in environmental impact.

Biodegradable and compostable are not the same thing, while one is environmentally neutral the other actively helps the ecosystem. How should we deal with a bag biodegradable? Where do we throw it away ? What is the difference between biodegradable and compostable? In this article we discover all the differences between these two materials and how to make the separate collection.


It may seem strange to some, but compostable and biodegradable have different meanings. Many of us throw waste indistinctly compostable or biodegradable materials as if these materials were the same thing. Instead, we need to pay more attention to waste management. In fact, we will discover that biodegradable materials take longer to decompose, while compostable ones take much less time. Moreover, compostable ones have nutritional properties for the soil, they can be used as fertilizers and manure.


What means compostable? What are compostable materials and what distinguishes them from biodegradable ones?

Compostable materials are said to be so because after a composting process they turn into compost. Compost is an organic soil that we can use as a natural fertilizer, it is obtained through the biodegradation of waste compostable organic waste. When ready, compost looks like potting soil and contains many substances that nourish the soil. Not all materials can generate compost. We can define them as compostable only if they biodegrade in three months and are not toxic to the environment but, on the contrary, nourish it.


What distinguishes a material biodegradable from a compostable one? The main difference is that, by definition, a material is considered to be biodegradable if it decomposes at least 90% in six months. As we have seen, a material that is compostable takes half the time to decompose and is, in addition, full of nutrients for the soil. In contrast, a material that is biodegradable occurs through enzymatic processes by microorganism such as fungi or bacteria and can be converted into:

  • methane;
  • carbon dioxide;
  • water.

Therefore a material biodegradable easily degrades in the environment into non-polluting substances, but it does not go into the soil and has no useful purpose in manuring or as a fertilizer.


How do you behave in the collection differentiated? A crucial example in this sense is that of biodegradablebags that are not always compostable. Only if a bag is biodegradable and also compostable can it be thrown in the wet waste bin or used to collect wet waste.

Another recent example is that of bioplastics, the material that is becoming increasingly popular as a replacement for plastic, but which is of plant origin and can be either biodegradable or compostable. In this case we can get confused and we must pay attention to the symbols that tell us how to behave when throwing this waste.
R5 Living is sensitive to the issue of sustainability related to packaging materials, in fact it proposes some
refill contained in a casing made of PVA material, a water-soluble synthetic polymer, which is biodegradable. biodegradable and does not release toxic substances, while for the external packaging it uses FSC certified cardboard® with a recycling rate of at least 70%.

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