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Bioplastic, biodegradable, compostable … does everything sound the same to you? Know the differences!

The terms bioplastics or biobased mean that the raw material with which the product was manufactured comes from renewable sources such as corn, sugar cane, soybeans, etc., but this does not mean that it is biodegradable, since “traditional” plastics can be manufactured with renewable raw material, such as Bio-PP, Bio-PE and Bio-PET cases. On the other hand, there’s also a case of bio-based and biodegradable materials such as starch, PHA and PLA, and non-bio-based biodegradable materials such as PCL.

In other matters, biodegradable material refers to what happens at the end of its useful life, resulting in a disintegration of the material thanks to the action of microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi and algae). In this process there is no specific time, as it can occur after hundreds of years, unlike compostable materials where there is a maximum time of 12 months for degradation by the action of microorganisms in a compost, obtaining: CO2, water, inorganic compounds and biomass, without leaving visible, distinguishable or toxic residues.

Now, composting is the biological degradation process that transforms organic waste into biologically stable material and is used as fertilizer for the soil. For this to happen, it is necessary to control the humidity, temperature and aerobic conditions (presence of oxygen). This is where the differences between home and industrial composting come from. In the latter, it is possible to control the aforementioned properties, generating a friendly environment for certain types of microorganisms (called thermophiles) that efficiently biodegrade waste (6 months maximum), unlike homemade compost, where its conditions (lower temperature and little control of humidity) lead to the proliferation of other microorganisms (mesophiles) that may take a little longer to do this same process (12 months maximum).

In summary!

  • Bioplastics are plastics from renewable sources and are not necessarily biodegradable.
  • Compostable materials are biodegradable, but not all biodegradable materials are compostable.
  • Compostable materials do not leave toxic residues.
  • Materials that biodegrade in homemade compost also biodegrade in industrial compost, but not necessarily the other way around.

At Colarquim we have a biobased, biodegradable and homemade compost product! Meet our new Bio-Masterbatch line.

If you have questions or require more information, you can contact the Masterbatch Plant located in Sabaneta, Antioquia by phone: +57 (4) 444 80 97 or by email at

Author: MB Plant Research’s team | July 16, 2021.

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