Recyclable VS Biodegradable VS Compostable

  • Definition of Recyclable

    Definition of Recyclable

    The term recyclable means collecting, separating, and changing items into something new. Recycling is a key component of modern waste reduction and is the third component of the "ReduceReuse, and Recycle" waste hierarchy. It promotes environmental sustainability by removing raw material input and redirecting waste output in the economic system.



    Definition of Biodegradable

    Definition of Recyclable

    The term biodegradable means any material that can be broken down by microorganisms and assimilated into the natural environment. Biodegradation is a naturally occurring process; when an object degrades, its original composition degrades into simple components like biomass, carbon dioxide, water. This process can occur with or without oxygen, but it takes less time when oxygen is present — like when a leaf pile in your yard breaks down over the course of a season.

    Biodegradation can take anywhere from a few days to 500 or more years.

    Time for Household Items to Biodegrade


    Time to Biodegrade


    5 days - 1 month


    2 - 5 months

    Cotton T-shirt

    6 months

    Tree Leaves

    1 year

    Nylon Fabric

    30 - 40 years

    Aluminum Cans

    80 - 100 years

    Styrofoam Cups

    500+ years

    Plastic Bags

    500+ years


    Definition of Compostable

    Definition of Recyclable

    The term compostable means a product or material that can biodegrade under specific, human-driven circumstances. Unlike biodegradation, which is an entirely natural process, composting requires human intervention.

    During composting, microorganisms break down organic matter with the help of humans, who contribute the water, oxygen, and organic matter necessary to optimize conditions. The composting process generally takes between a few months and one to three years.The timing is impacted by variables like oxygen, water, light, and the type of composting environment.