#ZeroWasteWeek: Biodegradable vs Compostable

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By Madeleine Loveday

Biodegradable, compostable we hear these terms thrown around a lot these days and although the terms are often used interchangeably, this can be misleading…so what does it all mean?

Here at The Cheeky Panda HQ we get asked about this subject a lot, and with the recent release of our brilliant new baby wipes and last weeks #ZeroWasteWeek we thought it was high time we broke it down. The environmental implications of traditional wipes have lately been a hot topic, particularly their impacts on our waterways. Wet wipes made up more than 90% of the material causing sewer blockages investigated in 2017 by Water UK.

At The Cheeky Panda we believe that wipes are not for flushing, and we recommend that after enjoying our wipes, that they are composted, or disposed of through regular waste streams so that they can biodegrade. Here we explain the key differences between the two terms.

Composting

The key feature of this process which distinguishes it from biodegrading is that the composting is a human-controlled process. Furthermore, the breakdown products provide nutrients to the earth; materials decay within a mixture of earth and dead leaves, into carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds and biomass. The time something takes to decompose depends on the conditions under which it is composted (usually either in a home compost or industrially, by your council via your food waste collection). 

Our baby wipes break down over a period of 3-5 weeks.

Biodegrading

Whereas, biodegradation is a natural and ungoverned process, which means it can take a much longer time for materials to break down. What’s more, the conditions under which something biodegrades affect how quickly this process takes place. This makes it very difficult to give an estimation to our customers about how long our wipes will take to breakdown if they are disposed of outside a compost waste stream.

Due to their 100% natural composition, our wipes are both compostable and biodegradable. We encourage disposal of wipes in home or industrial compost as best practice. However, we are aware that not everyone has access to composting facilities. If this is the case, have no fear! Our wipes can be placed in municipal household waste streams and if they end up in landfills they will simply break down into natural elements – just over a far longer time period than if they were composted. What we do not condone is not disposing properly of our wipes – pandas don’t litter, and neither should you!

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