Bio-based, biodegradable, compostable… How to find your way?

Bio-based, biodegradable, compostable,… so many words! We help you better understand their differences.

Bio-basedbiodegradablecompostable, as many terms that we do not always understand and yet frequently used as a marketing argument.

Many amalgams exist. A material can be bio-based without being biodegradable, just like the opposite.

It is essential not to confuse upstream, that is to say the origin of the material, with downstream, which refers to its degradability after use.

Origin: Bio-based or fossil?

The prefix “bio”, which means “living”, refers to the plant or animal origin of a material. This term therefore does not necessarily guarantee that the product is biodegradable.

The term bio-based refers to the composition of the material and means that it is partly or completely made from plants or animals resources (PLA, bagasse, cotton, sheep’s wool, etc.).

If bio-based materials are increasingly used, non-bio-based plastic materials have long been the most used. However, these ones, made from fossil fuels, are currently questioned from an ecological point of view. While it is true that non-bio-based plastic materials are recognized for their resistance, we will discover that some of them are nevertheless biodegradable.

End of life: biodegradable or not?

At the end of its life, a product can be biodegradable or not.

A product is said to be biodegradable if it can be decomposed by microorganisms after being used. The duration of the decomposition process then determines the degree of biodegradability.

Among this biodegradable waste, we find compostable waste. This means that these can, under certain conditions, degrade in order to be transformed into a natural fertilizer called compost. Depending on their composition, the packaging can be composted at home or industrially.

Finally, you can remember that compostable waste is biodegradable but that the reverse is not always true!

Do you want to know more about composting? Read our article on home composting and industrial composting by following this link.

There are also non-biodegradable packaging which can nevertheless be recycled. At the end of life, they are in fact recovered in whole or in part, then transformed into new products. Among those you know best, we find in particular glass and plastic.

Which plastic material seems the most suitable for your packaging?

Examples: biodegradable and natural non-biodegradable fossil

All bio-based plastic waste, from organic matter of plant or animal origin, is not necessarily biodegradable. Conversely, some plastics are derived from petrochemicals (fossil fuels) and yet are biodegradable.

To better understand, discover our recap below:

As you have noticed, PBAT (polybutylene adipate terephthalate) is one of the non-bio-based but biodegradable plastic materials. This is why the plastic bags distributed when you buy your fruits and vegetables are compostable. Indeed, the non-recyclable bags have been replaced by these PBAT bags.

On the contrary, PA (polyamides) is bio-based but not biodegradable.

In order to respect our environment, we have chosen to manufacture your food packaging, in particular in PLA. Are you looking for food packaging made from plant or animal and recyclable materials? Discover our range of eco-friendly packaging!