Biodegradable vs. Compostable vs. Recyclable

Biodegradable vs Compostable vs Recyclable

Recyclable vs. Compostable vs. Biodegradable: What’s the Difference?

You’ve probably seen labels on products claiming there are either one of these three things: biodegradable, compostable or recyclable. These are terms we hear a lot these days, but do you know what the difference is? If you don’t, classifying your waste can be confusing. You might be excited and willing to help the environment, but you don’t quite know how. Here’s what you need to know about each of these terms:


A product that is biodegradable will break down into smaller pieces over time —a reasonable amount of time— thanks to heat, water, oxygen, and microorganisms, but it won’t entirely break down. Since it requires fewer chemicals to break down, it is less damaging to the environment. However, this “reasonable” amount of time could be decades, and plastic will also eventually break down, but it will take longer than a biodegradable product.

Recyclable vs Compostable vs Biodegradable: What's the Difference?Compostable

Compostable material is also biodegradable, but not the other way around. It will break down completely over time —about 60 to 90% of it will break down within a period of 180 days and 90% of it will disintegrate, as long as the right conditions are met. Compostable material will not leave behind chemicals that are toxic to soil, on the contrary, it provides nutrients to the soil after decomposing.


A product that is considered recyclable is collected and then can be turned into something new through a variety of processes that can turn them into raw materials or products, like books or notebooks made from recycled paper, or surfboards made from recycled plastic. Unlike composting, recycling requires energy, but it can create products that will last longer.


With this in mind, the next time you have to classify your waste, you’ll be able to make a better decision for the benefit of the planet. Just make sure you read the labels. If recycling is part of your goals for this new year, Sunrise Sanitation can help. Recycling has been an important service that Sunrise Sanitation has been offering over the recent years. Give us a call to find out more.

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