We’ve all come across signs on our packaging claiming to be compostable or biodegradable, but what do these really mean? Very often we confuse one label with another but they are not interchangeable and if misunderstood can cause damage to our environment. So let’s clear things up…

Biodegradable and compostable, although sound similar aren’t the same. Not all biodegradable materials are compostable. Biodegradable materials require the action of microorganisms to break down, this usually occurs within landfills. Compostable materials however break down under specific composting conditions like the piles in our compost bins.

I recently started a veg patch and I really wish I had known the difference between these labels before I began. I’ve since discovered that the biodegradable bags that we place our compost in don’t degrade in a way that is suitable for when you want to make use of your compost. Pieces of those bags are still clearly visible in the compost now surrounding my veg patch. Don’t let this discourage you though, biodegradable and compostable bags are by far better than the standard petroleum based plastic bags we see floating round a Tesco’s car park. However if you do find yourself in possession of said plastic bag, just try and get as much use out of it as possible.

If there is one thing to remember about biodegradable or compostable bags however, it is that they can still end up in our oceans wreaking havoc on our wildlife. Regardless of what products you purchase, disposing of them responsibly is key to protecting our environment and our wildlife.