Compostable Versus Biodegradable

Updated: Nov 15, 2018

Did you know? Compostable products are not the same as biodegradable products. Compostable products disintegrate (in designated compost facilities) within a one hundred eighty day period, and this disintegration does not induce soil toxicity. Biodegradable products break down over an undefined period of time. This may span any amount of days, months, years, etcetera.

Products labeled “biodegradable” should NOT be disposed of in the compost bin. The words “compostable” (should) be written on any product that is not obviously compostable. Products that are compostable at the University of Michigan but not necessarily labeled as such include paper plates (with no glossy finish), paper napkins, paper towels, tea bags, coffee grounds, coffee filters, yard waste, and (pre- and post-consumer) food waste.