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· Environment

Everyone is aware that biodegradable and compostable materials are present in a lot of fields and became a business for some. Between action, marketing, and truth it’s not easy to navigate. These mentions are often confusing and complex. Coup d’barre helps you to see more clearly and we identified for you the true from the false.  

What is the biodegradable?

A so-called biodegradable material is a material which degrades in organic environment and therefore in nature. It can be decomposed by biological organisms such as mushrooms, bacterias… and with favorable conditions (temperature, humidity, biological organisms…).  

So a biodegradable packaging  is a packaging which under the influence of light, oxygen, humidity, biological organisms… breaks down into element which can be found in the nature. 

The biodegradable has no requirements on the size of particles obtained by the degradation. Only the particles which can be reused by plants and microorganism need to remain.  

Bioderagradable is defined as the fact to have at least 90% of the material is decomposed after at least 6 months. For example, plastic bottle isn’t biodegradable because it needs around 400 years to break down.  

Everything from nature is biodegradable. For instance, a banana peel left in the open can break down quickly. However, a biological material mustn’t be abandoned anywhere in the nature. A banana peel is perfectly biodegradable, but the sidewalk is not its place.  

What is the Compostable?

Compostable packaging like biodegradable packaging is a packaging that decomposes under certain conditions: temperature, humidity, action, and microorganisms… 

A so-called compostable material is a material that will degrade 100% in a compost. 

Composting is the process of transformation organic material in the presence of water, air, and by the help of microorganisms into humus. The principle is therefore that the organic waste will be transformed by microorganisms into a material which can be used as a fertilizer.

fresh organic matter + oxygen + microorganism = fertilizer + CO2 + H2O + heat  

As can be seen in this formula above, the mixture will give rise to humus with a release of heat. It is in particular this release of heat that will allow packaging such as Natureflex to degrade. In compost, this temperature can reach 50 to 60 degrees. The temperatures reached are obviously higher in industrial composts than in house composts. This is why some materials are not actually compostable at home, but they can be 100% industrially compostable. 

Every compostable material is also biodegradable material. However, every biodegradable material isn’t necessary compostable material. 

The definition of a compostable packaging is more precise than a biodegradable one. Indeed, to be a compostable, a packaging must respect additional criteria. For instance, to be compostable, the material disintegration time is 3 months, and the size of particles must be less than 2mm and biodegradable. 

To conclude, how do you know if a packaging is really biodegradable or compostable:

There are polemic about labels and claims to indicate that a packaging is biodegradable or compostable. However, many of them are misused. For instance, we heard a lot about the controversy over biodegradable plastic. When you buy a plastic bag or bottle.You think that it will be decomposed in a short time, but it doesn't !  

Experiments were realized on biodegradable plastic bag in order to see the effectiveness and the decomposition time of these. These bags have undergone 3 different tests. They were put in the water, underground and left in the open.

Experimental results: no bag was decomposed after 3 months. It took 9 months for the bags left  outside to degrade and 3 years for underground bags and those in water.

It is therefore important to remain cautious and take the time to discern the true biodegradable and/or compostable packaging.   

To protect our planet, Coup d'barre has opted for 100% industrially compostable packaging made from wood pulp. If you want more information on these bars with environnementally friendly packaging click on the following link.


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