Global Plastic Sheeting

Biodegradable Plastic, Bioplastic, Compostable Plastic- What ?


Source: Global Plastic Sheeting

A lot of terminolgy has been floating around these days- Biodegradable Plastic, Bioplastic, Compostable Plastic- what does it all mean? Let's start with Compostable Plastic. This is a plastic that undergoes biological degradation when it is composting that yields carbon dioxide, water, and inorganic compounds that leaves no visual distinguishable or toxic residues. You may be familiar with ASTM D6400 which covers plastics and products made from plastics that are designed to be domposted in industrial and municipal aerobic composting facilities.

Bioplastics are plastics that are considered 'environmentally friendly'. They are made from natural materials such as corn starch. Since bioplastics are made from corn starch, some can break down in a few weeks. The cornstarch molecules absorb water and swell up thus causing them to break apart into small fragments that baceria can more readily digest.

Biodegradable plastics (also called photodegrable, oxydegradable) are made from traditional petrochemicals which are engineered to break down much more quickly. Biodegradable plastic contain additives that cause them to decay more rapidly in the presence of light and oxygen. The down side is that biodegradable plastics don't always break down into harmless substances and can sometimes leave behind a toxic substance that can make them unsuitable for composting.

There are varying opinions as to whether these forms of plastic are actually good for the environment.

Customer comments

  1. By David Newsted on

    You're right, a good deal of confusion exists with the terminology used in the bioplastics industry. For example, bioplastics are biopolymers, but biopolymers may not be bioplastics. One site I've found that addresses the topic quite nicely is - they also include recycling information at

  2. By Laina Rose on

    Biodegradable, photodegradable and oxodegradable are very different types of products. Photo and Oxo products only break the plastic into smaller pieces leaving behind plastic fragments. I work for a company called EcoLogic, we sell the only truly biodegradable additive on the market called EcoPure. Like any organic material that biodegrades, the plastic with EcoPureā„¢ will create byproducts of humus (which can be used to make soil richer), methane (which can be converted to useful energy), and carbon dioxide. EcoPureā„¢ differs from other "degradable plastic additives" available in the market today. It is the only additive which produces methane a critical component of true biodegradation in an anaerobic environment. Feel free to check out our website if you want more information about how it works.

  3. By Nana Hinsley on

    @David Newsted - Thanks for you insite and comment. The website you mention is one I did not know about. Thanks so very much!

  4. By Nana Hinsley on

    @Laina Rose Thank you Laina! I will share this info with the powers that be at our company as well.