This is a common question we get asked at KEEPER Denim! It can be difficult to know the difference between these two terms, especially when many companies use them interchangeably, its easy to think they are the same thing. They are two very different processes, although they do have one thing in common – they both require the correct environment for items to breakdown.

So, what is the difference between biodegradable and compostable?


The term ‘biodegradable’ means something can be broken down either by bacteria or living organisms. Natural, plant and animal-based products are usually biodegradable, which means when these products are under the right environment with the right conditions, they will be able to break down and disintegrate. This process can sometimes take months or even years, depending on what the product is. Some common biodegradable items include paper, food waste and wood that is untreated - all of which can breakdown relatively quickly. Even steel is biodegradable as over time it will rust and eventually disintegrate. These products will need the right conditions to breakdown – including bacteria, light and water. So, an item that may breakdown in a garden, may not breakdown in a place such as landfill where the conditions are not right. 


Compostable products can break down relatively fast when in the right compostable environment and once they do, they create a material called ‘humus’ which is an organic material, rich in nutrients, creating a healthy soil for new plants to grow in. A compostable environment is known as a ‘compost bin’ which are comprised of layers, including brown material (dead leaves, sticks and paper) and green materials (garden clippings and food scraps). These layers must be moist, but not too wet and the bin must have a lid to retain both heat and moisture inside the compost bin and aired every week or two. Then after a couple of months, you will have new soil in your compost that you can then put into your garden!

To summarise, here are the pros and cons of both biodegradable and compostable products:





Products can break down and disintegrate.

Some highly processed products can breakdown and leave toxic waste behind.





Products breakdown faster and don’t leave behind any toxic waste behind.

Composting can be time-consuming and difficult to provide the right environment so that the products will breakdown.


Products can be composted at your home in a compost bin. 



We hope you found this KEEPER Denim blog post on the difference between biodegradable and compostable helpful and if you were confused between the two terms, you are now clear on what they mean.

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