Compostable vs Biodegradable - All You Need to Know

It’s 2021 and now more than ever, people are becoming more conscious of their role to play in ending the single-use-plastic crisis - which has led to the rise of biodegradable and compostable packaging materials hitting the scene.


It can get a little confusing between the two, so we’ve broken down the differences between them in this article so you can be well equipped with all the knowledge you need when making your next eco purchase. 

So, what’s the difference between biodegradable and compostable? Let’s dive in!


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The word “bio-degradable” means “susceptible to decomposition by living organisms” (like bacteria and fungi) and consists of three words: “bio“, “degrade” and “able“. Once biodegradable products reach a landfill, it attracts the necessary microbes, alongside light and water that will help it break down into its natural components, returning to the Earth in a natural and healthy state.

Pros - It does not require a specific environment to break down. This means that even in landfills, they are able to return to its natural state over a period of time and avoid the buildup of waste and space, unlike plastic.

Cons - Products that will biodegrade in nature may not biodegrade properly in landfills, where there's not enough bacteria, light, and water to move the process along. Some highly processed biodegradable products may still leave behind some toxic residue.

Which bin? Biodegradable packaging should only be used or placed into your general waste bin


Compostable products contain a natural plant starch and break down readily in a composting system by microbial activity to form compost. This then leaves behind an organic material that’s nutrient rich, which will then support a healthy soil environment for new plant growth!

Pros - Compostable materials go one step further than biodegradable by providing the earth with nutrients once the material has completely broken down. Composting is a great example of a ‘closed loop’ system – because there is absolutely no waste at the end of the process. 

Cons - While biodegradable materials are designed to break down within landfills, compostable materials require special composting environments which include warm temperatures, nutrients, moisture and plenty of oxygen.

Which bin? Compostable products can go into the Green Organics bin or into your home composting system (only home compostable products)

Happy Human’s tablet wrappers are made of 100% compostable materials

Did you know? Happy Human has got your back with its tablets’ packaging being made of 100% compostable materials. The 3 layers are made of FSC-certified wood cellulose and other bio-polymers made of renewable plant starch. So you can rest easy knowing that you’re making the better choice, your regular choice with Happy Human :) 

These tablet wrappers are currently industrially compostable. It is still possible to break down our tablet wrappers within 180 days at home, but it must have the right balance of the following:

a. Oxygen (must rotate the pile frequently)

b. Moisture (this will come from the other items in the compost)

c. Micro-organisms (this will come from the other items in the compost and can be started with starter-packs of micro-organisms)

d. Heat (industrial composters reach heat of 60 degrees Celsius or 140 degrees Fahrenheit.  Most home compost unfortunately doesn't reach this level of heat)

e. Carbon to Nitrogen ratio


Happy Human is a female-founded startup based in Sydney rethinking our everyday products to create a range of waterless home and personal care cleaning products that are wallet, space and earth-friendly!

Check out our story, or shop the Happy Human foaming hand wash kit or multi-purpose kit today!