The Difference Between Compostable, Biodegradable and Recyclable
Compostable vs Biodegradable vs Recyclable: Explained
So, you’ve decided to start getting a little more sustainable. We’re doing a little happy dance here at Feel Good Ink! You’ve taken the first step in helping the planet and becoming a real-life superhero.
While being more consciously sustainable is actually pretty easy, there’s a lot of lingo being thrown around out there, so it’s natural to feel a little confused at the beginning. You probably know you don’t want to be throwing a ton of paper, cardboard and plastic straight into massive landfills - but then what should you be doing?
What Is Recycling?
Recycling is the best option for regular-old paper, cardboard, glass bottles or jars, and hard plastic waste. Recycling works by collecting, sorting, and repurposing these materials and is actually a pretty complex process. The good news, though, is that your part of the job is super simple!
Once you’ve collected the items you plan to recycle, it’s best to do a quick check to make sure there’s nothing in the pile that shouldn’t be there. Things like broken glass, soft plastic and bubble wrap are big no no’s - so remove those before moving on.
Next, make sure all your boxes, jars, bottles and cans have been rinsed out so that they’re clean and free of food waste. If there’s a tiny bit of residue on your take away box, that’s okay - but leave the crumbs out of there!
Then, pop your recycling bin out on the street on bin day. Too easy, right?
What’s The Difference Between Biodegradable And Compostable?
If a piece of packaging says it’s compostable or biodegradable, that’s super awesome. But even though both compostable and biodegradable options are better than waste that won’t break down, there is actually a difference between the two.
Basically, all compostable waste is biodegradable. But not everything biodegradable can be chucked in your compost bin at home.
So what’s the difference between biodegradable vs compostable, then?
Simply put: ‘biodegradable’ is anything that breaks down and degrades in the environment, like plant based plastic and packaging. ‘Compostable’, on the other hand, can only refer to organic elements, such as food scraps, that are usable for healthy soil and plant growth.
This means that items that are marked as ‘biodegradable’ but not ‘compostable’ should actually be chucked in your regular rubbish bin. While some biodegradable products take longer than others to break down, they all will eventually.
Trying to decide between biodegradable vs compostable packaging for your business or side-hustle? Because the criteria of what’s actually biodegradable within a product can sometimes be a little blurred, we recommend choosing compostable packaging where possible. In fact, there are heaps of choices that even specify they’re suitable for home compost (as opposed to commercial composting).
Handy tip: Don’t add meat scraps, bones, grease, whole eggs, or dairy products to your compost bin. They don’t decompose as quickly, can attract rodents, and they’re super smelly!
Okay, but what about compostable vs recyclable?
Is it better to compost or recycle paper and cardboard?
It depends on the type of paper or cardboard. Things like printing paper with ink, or those big brown cardboard boxes you used to lug all your worldly possessions from one apartment to the next, should be put in your regular recycling bin (if they’re not in good enough shape to reuse!). This way, the big people in charge can magically turn them into new boxes and paper (it’s probably not done by magic but we’re also not saying it’s definitely not).
There are some kinds of paper and cardboard that are better for the compost bin. Things like paper towels, egg cartons and boxes without plastic coatings or heavy dyes make great additions to your compost collection!
Handy tip: If your recyclable or compostable product has a part that isn’t cool enough to be reused (like the little plastic window in a paper envelope), remember to remove it before putting the rest of the product in the recycling/compost bin.
Find Ways To Make Less Waste (And Help A Charity)
Still feeling like it’s all a bit too complicated? At Feel Good Ink, we’ve got you covered. We’re here to make things *easy peasy lemon squeezy* with our totally digital cards that are way cuter than any physical card you’ve seen, and way better for the environment.
Our digital cards help you live your best sustainable life by reducing waste and saving trees. Plus, with every card you send, you’re donating $2 to a charity of your choice. We told you, you’re a real-life superhero!