Know the difference between degradable and compostable plastic
When we see the term degradable or biodegradable on products, we assume that these products are better for the environment. But degradable products are actually made from plastic with other chemicals added (including heavy metals) that cause the plastic to break down and disintegrate over time when exposed to sunlight and heat. They break down into thousands of tiny pieces of plastic (micro-plastic) that get into our waterways, soil, and food. Then, animals and humans consume that plastic.
Like degradable products, biodegradable products are also usually made with petroleum based plastic but they have microorganisms added to break down the plastic. Again, this simply just creates micro plastic where the plastic remains on earth for hundreds if not thousands of years.
Certified compostable products, on the other hand, are made of natural plant starches, and do not produce any toxic material when they are broken down in the environment. Compostable products, such as bags or packaging, break down readily in a composting system through natural microbial activity to form compost. Compostable products can go right into your green bin or compost heap and will break down in a few months.
Knowing the difference between these three packaging categories will help you recognize green washing and help you make informed choices as a conscious consumer.