Biodegradable and Compostable

BioBag International AS

Both are used to describe the organic materials breaking down in a specific environment. organic materials breaking down in a specific environment. That’s the BioBag more often used biodegradable and compostable words to define our environmental products.

And the best parts about these products are they are certified by international standards and decompose in a composting setting in a specific time frame, leaving no harmful residues behind.


The definition of biodegradable is that a material is capable of undergoing biological anaerobic or aerobic degradation leading to the production of CO2, H2O, methane, biomass, and mineral salts, depending on the environmental conditions of the process. An important role in biodegradation is played by microorganisms, which are present in the environment and fed mostly by organic waste. However, unlike compostable, the term biodegradable means very little as everything is biodegradable given time. Thus, it is very important to specify the environment where biodegradation is intended to take place.


Composting is the process of breaking down organic waste by microbial digestion to create compost. Compost has many beneficial uses including improving and fertilizing soil. To go through a composting process, organic waste requires the right level of heat, water, and oxygen. In a pile of organic waste, there are millions of tiny microbes that consume the waste, transforming the organic materials into compost. In order to claim that a product is fully compostable, the product has to meet all the requirements in the European Norm EN 13432 and/or the US Standard ASTM D6400. Both specifications require that biodegradable/compostable products completely decompose in a composting setting in a specific time frame, leaving no harmful residues behind.

International Standards

In addition to the European Standard EN 13432, some countries have their own norms like the US Standard ASTM D6400, and the Australian norm AS4736 (minimal differences between the norms).

Today, the terms biodegradation, biodegradable materials, compostability, etc. are very common, but frequently misused. Consequently, this is a source of misunderstanding. The European Standard EN 13432 “Requirements for packaging recoverable through composting and biodegradation – Test scheme and evaluation criteria for the final acceptance of packaging”, resolves this problem by defining the characteristics that a material must have, in order to be defined as “compostable”, namely that it can be recycled through organic recovery (composting and anaerobic digestion).

This standard applies to plastic packaging and lignocellulosic materials. The standard excludes plastic materials not used as packaging, such as plastics used in agriculture or bags for waste collection, which are covered by Standard UNI EN 14995. From a technical perspective, it is identical to UNI EN 13432, but it can cover a wider range of applications other than packaging. The technical content of the two standards is identical, meaning that any plastic material that complies with UNI EN 13432 also complies with UNI EN 14995, and vice versa. These standards are the most important technical references for manufacturers of materials, public authorities, composters, certifying bodies, and consumers.

BioBag International AS
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