Biodegradable VS compostable, what’s better?

Biodegradable VS compostable, what’s better?

Posted by Shaina Munro on

Biodegradable VS compostable, what’s better?

Let’s break it down (see what I did there 😉)


Calling something bio-degradable means that the product has the ability to completely break down into natural substances, in the right conditions. Micro-organisms, fungi or bacteria must be present to aid the product in breaking down. But this doesn’t always mean that it degrades without leaving behind toxins, that can be harmful to our earth. There are also no standards associated with the length of time it takes for the product to biodegrade, meaning it could be 50 days or 50 years!

We feel that bio-degradable can be a very misleading label, as consumers are not able to be confident that the product will break down quickly or break down without leaving toxins behind.

So, what is the alternative?


We love using compostable products at Arlo and Olive. And here are a few reasons why.

Compostable means that the product will break down completely, leaving behind no toxins that are harmful to the soil and our eco-system. They also have a time frame in which they are required to breakdown in to be able to be labelled as compostable, this varies between certifications.

There are two types of compostable, Industrial compostable, and home compostable.

Industrial compostable products are required to break down in 12 weeks in an industrial composting facility, however will still break down in your home compost, it will just take more time.

Home compostable products come with the AS5810 certification, which means they are certified to break down in your home compost bin in a maximum of 180 days, however most will break down much faster. This certification even includes a test to make sure the wormies are not being harmed.

Home compostable products are converted into compost, and CO2 meaning they are actually benefitting the soil to encourage healthier crops. It also eliminates water and methane production, meaning it is a much more sustainable alternative to your rubbish bin.

You might be reading all this and thinking, but Shaina, I don’t have a compost bin!

Don’t worry, there are a few options for you! The best option is asking a friend, family member or neighbour if they would be happy to compost your bags for you. You could also look into your community garden, most suburbs have them and have composting available on site.
If you have no way of composting your products, you can bury them in your garden, or re-use them for mailing, as a bin liner, or even picking up dog poo.

One important thing to note – if you receive an order in a compostable bag, make sure to check with the brand whether they use compostable shipping labels, as many companies don’t.
In the case that they do not use compostable labels, please be sure to cut this off before composting the bag, as this will not breakdown with the bag.

At Arlo and Olive, all our packaging is certified with the AS5810 home compostable certification, including our shipping labels. So when you receive your order from us you can pop the entire bag in the compost bin to feed the soil and the wormies!


← Older Post Newer Post →


How to care for your clothes sustainably. sustainable laundry detergent. ethical clothing.

How to care for your clothes, sustainably!

By Shaina Munro

Did you know that up to 50% of a garments carbon footprint actually occurs after the owner takes it home? It is super important to...

Read more
How to start a sustainable business how to tell if a brand is sustainable sustainable business


By Shaina Munro

It can be so difficult to determine exactly if a brand is sustainable or not, we get it! There is a lot of misleading information...

Read more