Sustainability Terminology

What does it all mean?

Not all the terminology for sustainability have specific or consistent meanings.  Below are some common terms and some generally accepted definitions and usage.


Can be re-processed into something else.


Biodegradable plastic can be broken down completely into water, carbon dioxide and compost by microorganisms under the right conditions. “Biodegradable” implies that the decomposition happens in weeks to months. Bio-plastics that don’t biodegrade that quickly are called “durable,” and some bio-plastics made from biomass that cannot easily be broken down by microorganisms are considered non-biodegradable.

Certified Compostable

Compostable – Plastic products that are compostable will biodegrade in a compost site.  Microorganisms break it down into carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds and biomass at the same rate as other organic materials in the compost pile, leaving no toxic residue.  Certified Compostable means that it has been tested by a reputable organization to meet specific standards.