Biodegradable means that a product will break down into CO2, H20 and biomass within a “reasonable” amount of time in the natural environment. Essentially this means that biodegradable items break down into smaller and smaller pieces until microorganisms can consume it. The term biodegradable is loosely used and has no determined time frame for the product to break down.
Studies show that most consumers believe a product labeled biodegradable “will go completely away and on its own in year or less.” Consumers also believe that these products will biodegrade in landfills. The truth is, most landfills lack the sunlight, air and moisture needed for products to break down.
Compostable items are biodegradable but with a bonus: when they break down they release valuable nutrients into the soil. According to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in order for a product to qualify as certified compostable all the materials must break down into usable composts in a timely manner.
So while some products are considered biodegradable, they may not be considered compostable because they contain heavy metals or don’t break down in a “timely fashion.”
Thanks to EarthCycle.com