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  • Category: Miscellaneous

    What is the difference between biodegradable and compostable garbage bags?

    Confused to know the difference between biodegradable and compostable garbage bags? Looking out for detailed information about these items? Find responses from our ISC experts to resolve your queries here.

    People use many kinds of garbage bags, most of which are not at all environmentally friendly as they take many years to decompose. So it is suggested to use biodegradable bags. However, are these bags ones which can be categorized as compostable bags? Do they mean the same thing? I want to know as recently the Government of Maharashtra banned garbage bags and people will be looking to purchase compostable bags.
  • Answers

    5 Answers found.
  • Degradable material is that which will undergo significant changes in its chemical structure when subjected to different environmental conditions. As a result, the material will lose its properties.
    Biodegradable material is a material which will undergo degradation due to the action of naturally occurring microorganisms like bacteria, fungi and algae.
    Compostable material is a material which will get degraded by biological processes while composting and yield Carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds and biomass and leaves no visible, distinguishable or toxic residue.
    A paper bag is not only biodegradable but also compostable. A biodegradable plastic bag isn't necessarily compostable.

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  • A compost is something that when subjected to certain specific conditions decays and decomposes and becomes manure or fertilizer. Any material that can become a compost is said to be compostable. Compostable bags are those bags which also becomes manure and fertilizer along with the materials contained inside it intended to become compost. Or in other words the bags also get decayed and become fertilizer along with the waste material kept in it.

    Bio- Degradable simply means any material which can be decomposed by the actions of various bacteria on it. Bio degradation makes the original material decompose, degraded and change into various other naturally occurring materials including gases and water.

  • If we look at plastics, those marked with numbers 1 and 2 can be recycled. Most so called biodegradable garbage bags are made up of plastic number 7 and hence cannot be recylced. The degreet to which the material degrades in nature is dependent upon the amount of surface area of the bag that is exposed to mositure, light and air ( the natural elements).

    The other arguement is that methane gas release in the process is more harmful than carbon di oxide. If we have a backyard compost unit, then the temperature generated would not be high enough for the biodegradable bags to breakdown.

    Although both terms are used interchangably, there is a difference and most enviornment consious people go for the compostable bag.

    The compostable bags are made up of a unique plastic material that is broken down by a bacterial enzyme into carbon dioxide, biomass and water. The material and the manufacturer should meet the EN 13432 guidelines. This speaks about the amount of chemicals, and the time limit ( 90% of the material should be broken down physically by 3 months and chemically by 6 months). Some companies produce compostable bags that are made up of cornstarch and potato starch. These bags can be used for self generated kitchen waste and be used in the backyard or small community based compost units without much chance of the harmful regular plastic entering the system.

    So, in simple terms, going for a compostable garbage bags would be more safer that going for a biodegradable bag.

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  • Bio-degradable bags are supposed to degrade in atmospheric conditions to harmless materials and should also not generate toxic gases in the atmosphere. For this there are certain standards of manufacturing them and the manufacturer should certify it in his product report or batch specifications.

    Unfortunately, some bags are being manufactured illegally as bio-degradable but do not conform to the quality control and are in fact harming our environment. We should be careful in buying these bags and should buy only from reputed sources.

    Compostable bags are ahead of bio-degradable ones and more environment friendly as they can be kept under certain conditions to produce precious manure.

    Compostable bags are a better choice for green earth campaigns.

    Knowledge is power.

  • Compostable bags are green or very pale. Compostable bags are made from plant based material that break down when composted. The material in the bags that allow microbial organism to eat them include vegetable, plants and oil. Biodegradable items decompose or break down naturally. They can be constantly reuse. Biodegradable are safe for environment.

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