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Biodegradable vs Compostable

Posted on March 10 2020

Hey guys, Jessa from the Pet Connect pack here. Degradable, Biodegradable, industrial compost, home compostable. So much eco jargon and I’m sure there's not many of us who know the difference. Me and Rollo Dog have been doing some digging, well me for answers, Rollo for bones. I have broken it down, exactly which means what, in the easiest way possible…thank me later…


Technically all plastic is degradable and degradable means just that, that it breaks down. It could take hundreds or thousands of years to break down and be called degradable which these days has some positive marketing selling point yet, should be avoided at all costs. All plastic can be broken down, you could grind it up into a  fine powder or rip it up into small bits, therefore, degrading the plastic. Some plastics have additives that make it break down faster in certain conditions. These methods make the bulk of the plastic seem as though they have disappeared, with the feeling like it has returned to the earth. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further than the truth. These pieces of microplastic that are now in the earth are a much bigger problem for our poor environment. As you can imagine, it's easier to pick up one plastic bottle rather than a thousand really really small bits of plastic…boo! 


So the Bio word means that the degrading or breaking down of the plastic or other materials is aided by microorganisms such as fungi or bacteria. From the digging we have been doing the word Biodegradable is pretty obsolete. What makes it more confusing is that there is no time requirement or measurement for the harmful residues that may be left behind. To make a short story even shorter, Biodegradable simply means micro bits of plastic. 


I know it sounds a bit like a 90’s grunge band but having compostable plastic is definitely better than being err dare I say “biodegradable”. Compostable means that a product is capable of disintegrating into natural elements in a composting environment, leaving no toxicity in the soil. 

Industrially compostable items are generally thicker and contain greater amounts of compostable material. When thrown out they land themselves in an industrial compost where they are monitored for ideal conditions. Ideal conditions I hear you say? Things like temperature, moisture, oxygen and the correct carbon to nitrogen ratio. Once these conditions are achieved microbes flourish. The Microbes can be heard chowing down on all the delicious content. Once it has all broken down you are left with rich soil. 


The most wholesome way to dispose of your all goods. Home Composting systems generally operate at lower temperatures than industrial facilities and conditions are more variable and less managed.  Home-compostable products are generally made from thinner materials and require a lower temperature for microbes to get grooving. Having a home compostable certification is much harder to attain and much better for the environment because it’s better to break down your own rubbish to continuously add it to a growing problem.

Finding products that have a home composting certification is so much better for the environment than all the other mumbo jumbo. The best part is you can still pop these items into an industrial compost knowing that they will be the first ones to break down. 

Take Little Green dog for example, Todd and Sven dog have been leading the way in NZ with their certified home compostable poop bags, which means they usually require somewhere around 20°C to 30°C to break down, and they’re given a longer time period to do so (usually 90% degradation in 365 days). 


Now that you have an understanding of the eco truth behind all these titles. We encourage you to join the movement Little Green Dog are part of, and take care of your pets without sh*tting on the environment!

Take care Pet Connect Family, 

Jessa & Rollo Dog 



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