How can I easily tell which plastics are Biodegradable and which are not?

  • Welcome to sustainability.SE! Can you clarify why you want to know? Are you asking about plastics you're looking at in the store, or plastics you have that you're trying to dispose of?
    – LShaver
    Oct 2, 2018 at 16:08

1 Answer 1


Biodegradable plastics will oftentimes be labeled as such if they are for consumer use. As an example, a biodegradable plastic cups at a restaurant will often be labeled as such, mostly for marketing purposes so the restaurant can claim they are being environmentally friendly. The best bet, however, would be to try and find out the source of the plastic or an ingredients list. Biodegradable plastics are often made with plant-based ingredients instead of the more harmful chemicals contained in traditional plastics. But be wary of biodegradable plastics. They only biodegrade if they are disposed of in a specific way, i.e. composted properly. If you throw them in the trash can they will not biodegrade in a landfill.

  • The majority of biodegradable plastics indeed will only decompose under specific conditions, but plastics that biodegrade in your compost heap do exist (although they are still a bit rare). They have a label that says "home compostable"
    – THelper
    Oct 3, 2018 at 6:17

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