Composting is the process of breaking down organic waste. To create compost, millions of tiny microbes consume the waste in a compost heap and transform it into organic material. Compostable products are all biodegradable, but they are specifically intended for a composting environment. In the right setting, these products break down quickly, usually within 90 days, and they leave behind a nutrient-rich organic material called humus, which creates a healthy soil environment for new plant growth.

Compostable means that products will break down into natural elements in a compost setting. Compostable materials are typically made from plants and other organic materials such as corn and potato.

It’s important to note that PLA, a popular biodegradable material for green companies, will only decompose into carbon dioxide and water in a controlled composting environment, not in a backyard composting arrangement, according to standards developed by the Biodegradable Products Institute.

Compostable products are not recyclable. If you put a compostable item into the recycling process the entire batch will be contaminated.