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Biodegradable Products


US Composting BiodegradableOne word you see being thrown around on packaging for "green" products is biodegradable.   My advice?  Caveat emptor before buying something that simply says it's biodegradable.   I've gotten suckered into buying products labeled biodegradable more than once.  However, it's another one of those greenwashing terms that actually means nothing, much like products that tout being "all natural." 

According to the FTC,  a product must "return to nature" when disposed.  What does that mean?  Nobody even monitors or enforces this claim, and it's awfully vague.

To ensure that something is indeed biodegradable, there are two official seals to look for:

Certified Biodegradable:  This is applicable for soaps, detergents, and cleaners.  It's certified by Scientific Certification Systems, an independent certifier.  In order to be Certified Biodegradable, Scientific Certification Systems requires info on the formulation of the product as well as test results from the entire product or each ingredient. It also must be proven that the product will biodegrade in the environment that it is nontoxic marine life.

Compostable:  The US Composting Council can label plastics as biodegradable.   They have some pretty serious guidelines.  Check out what their seal looks like so you can be on the lookout for it.  

The above info only holds true for the U.S., so if you have information about standards and certifications in other countries, please leave a comment!  I'm curious to see what it's like in other countries.