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Understanding compostable packaging: a step towards sustainability.

Have you ever held a shopping bag in your hand and wondered, "now where do I throw it away?" You are not alone.

The terms "compostable," "biodegradable," and "renewable" often create confusion and are mistakenly considered synonyms. However, these terms have specific and distinct meanings that are crucial for proper waste separation and environmental protection.

What does compostability mean?

Compostability refers to a product's ability to be disposed of with organic waste and turned into compost in composting facilities. This process transforms kitchen and garden waste and compostable products into compost, a material that enriches the soil.

Biodegradable vs Compostable: what's the difference?

Biodegradability indicates the ability of organic substances and materials to decompose through the action of microorganisms, becoming part of the natural environment. If the process is complete, organic substances are transformed into simple molecules such as water and carbon dioxide.

Biodegradation is an essential natural phenomenon for the carbon-based life cycle on Earth. Through photosynthesis, plants and algae transform carbon dioxide into sugars and other substances necessary for their growth. Upon their death, microorganisms degrade the organic material, releasing water and carbon dioxide, thus completing the cycle.

In nature, almost everything biodegrades, but at different rates. For example, straw and wood take longer than starch and cellulose. Additionally, biodegradation is slower in cold and dry environments than in warm and humid ones.

To be effective, biodegradation requires an optimal environment where the process can be accelerated. This is where compostability comes into play, which occurs under controlled conditions such as composting and anaerobic digestion.

The characteristics of a compostable material .

The European standard UNI EN 13432 defines the characteristics that a material must possess to be considered compostable. According to this standard, a compostable material must be 90% biodegradable within six months.

The UNI EN 13432 standard is a fundamental reference for manufacturers, public authorities, composters, certifiers, and consumers. Knowing this information is essential to contribute to sustainability and to make informed choices that favor environmental protection.

This informative article can be used as a basis for a company blog that produces compostable packaging, highlighting the importance of understanding and distinguishing between the various terms to promote sustainable and responsible practices.


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