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Eco Facts

What's The Difference Between Recyclable and Compostable?

Written by: Lydia Mendel, social @blueland

September 29, 2019

It can be confusing to figure out what materials are compostable and what are recyclable. In order to determine the best way to sustainably dispose of products, it is important to know the difference between what is compostable and what is recyclable.

What Is Compost?

To know what materials are compostable, you first need to understand what compost is. Compost is broken down organic material. Commonly composted items come from your kitchen or yard, like food scraps and yard waste like leaves and sticks. Compostable items decompose into nutrients that can be added back into the soil as fertilizer. Compost is used as a natural alternative to fertilizer. Compost can be made in your home or yard, or you can drop off compostable materials to a local composting site.

What Does Compostable Mean?

Compostable items are usually organic materials that come from your kitchen, yard or garden. But there are more and more consumer products that are compostable as well. So, what exactly can be composted? Food scraps from your kitchen like vegetable peels and fruit skins are great compostable materials, just make sure to take the sticker off your fruits and vegetables. Be sure to stay away from adding any meat or poultry to your compost pile. Fat from animal products can be hard to break down and can spoil a compost pile. From your yard, leaves, twigs and some weeds make good compost. Compostable items do not just come from your kitchen or yard. Many consumer products are compostable or packaged in compostable packaging!

Cardboard packaging can also compostable. It can be added to compost piles as long as it is broken into small pieces. Other compostable products and packaging will be marked as compostable, usually on the bottom of the item. At Blueland, our tablet wrappers are compostable!

What Is Recyclable?

You are probably more familiar with recycling than composting. Recyclable materials are usually plastic, glass or paper. Recycling differs greatly from composting in that this process does not return the materials to the earth. Instead, recycling takes materials and converts them into new usable materials. Previously used materials that are recycled are often used as resources to create new products. This process supports sustainability efforts by not only reducing the need to extract raw materials for production but also by reusing an existing item and keeping them out of landfills and waterways. While the recycling process is not 100% efficient, it does help to address take care of the more pesky materials that are not compostable or biodegradable and could harm the environment if not recycled. Cardboard, metals, glass, plastics, batteries, and electronics are all commonly recycled materials. At Blueland, all of our shipping packaging is recyclable. Just flatten your cardboard boxes and put them with your regular curbside recycling or drop them off at your nearest recycling facility!

What Is The Difference Between Compostable And Recyclable?

It comes down to the materials you are disposing of. Compostable materials are organic and will decompose leaving only nutrients that can be returned to the earth. Compostable materials do not leave anything behind. Recyclable materials are typically made from plastic, glass and plastic and can be repurposed into new useful products. Both compostable and recyclable materials can be disposed of sustainably, just make sure you dispose of the right material the right way.


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