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Compostable vs Biodegradable?

What is the difference between Compostable and Biodegradable🧐?

It’s been 6 months since we set up shop and the two have been used interchangeably quite often in reference to our products.Today we are shedding light💡 on the two completely different concepts!


What are Compostables?

Compostables are made from ✅natural raw materials. Sustainable Africa compostables in are particular made from sugarcane (bagasse), bamboo ,🌽corn starch and paper. Compostable means the product can be put in a compost to break down and fully disintegrates into nutritious soil fertiliser along with the food and garden  waste🍟🥑 🦴🍖leaving no toxicity behind. Furthermore, compostable products are certified under the international regulations to ensure compliance with the term 'compostable'. These certifications range from the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI), American Society for Testing and Materials (ATSM) and EN13432. These products have been guaranteed to break down in a commercial composting unit within 90 days. These certifications means

the products have passed  the  tests  of  disintegration,  biodegradation,  and  terrestrial  and  aquatic  safety  in controlled  laboratory-scale  composting.  They also assess the  quality  of  compost or  ecotoxicity and characterisation  of packaging  includes analysis of  the composition  of package materials: heavy metals and organic carbon content, total dry solids and volatile content. 


What is Biodegradable?

The term ‘biodegradable’ although referring to a disintegration, does not necessarily give parameters of when and how products degrade for example wood is biodegradable but a log cabin can stand for thousands of years. When the term biodegradable is lent to plastics it often refers to plastics that have a chemical added to them design to break down the plastic bonds,  unfortunately this enables them to disintegrate into micro plastics (tiny plastics) which are synthetic & cannot be completely dissolved & absorbed by nature. Micro-plastics are now seen as more dangerous than fully formed plastic products because they are harder to see and clean up but still have the same damaging effects on our ecosystem.


So Whats the difference?

So we do not like to mix the two terms. You see compostable is always biodegradable but biodegradable is rarely compostable. Although our products are only certified for commercial composting, many of our products do break down in a home compost, the reason we cannot certify them is because there are no guarantees on timescale due to the irregular nature of home composting. The sugarcane (bagasse) products are  all 🏡home compostable along with the corn starch cling film and bin liners, but the hard PLA products generally need the high heat in a commercial compost.


What if there isn't a compost?

Sometimes our products don’t even need a composting environment, we buried our sugarcane Coupe Bowl in the soil and you can see the results for yourselves below, within 4 weeks it had started to degrade and within 14 weeks we could no longer any traces of the bowl.






























Also did you know that even if both products end up in landfill PLA products will produce up to 75% less greenhouses gasses than PET plastic! Once in landfill PLA remains inert and does not give off any dangerous gases such as methane.


We hope that explains why we insist on using compostable rather than bio-degradable.


For more information or guidance on composting please contact our team on: ⌨️info@sustainableafrica.com

📞Zim: +263 (0) 787720543

📞SA: +27 (0) 11 083-8822  

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Eco friendly, compostable packaging