Why is Compostable better than biodegradable?
According to the FTC's Green Guides, a product is biodegradable as long as it "will completely break down and return to nature (i.e., decompose into elements found in nature) within a reasonably short period of time after customary disposal." In other words, the item will continue to disintegrate into small pieces until micro-organisms consume it.
For an item to be marked compostable, the Green Guide states there must be scientific evidence that the materials in the item break down or become part of usable compost in a safe and timely manner (about one to four months). In addition, compostable items must not release any metals or toxins into the compost.
Why is compostable preferred? The main difference between biodegradable and compostable is that compostable material breaks down into "humus", which provides valuable nutrients to the soil, while biodegradable products may leave metal residue in their return to nature. Also, compostable products break down much more quickly than biodegradable, which has an unspecified rate of full disintegration - anywhere from a week to years. This is why our goal has always been to find a fully compostable film that would quickly return to the soil but would still be ideal for maintaining the freshness of the coffee.