Compostable, biodegradable or recyclable?

3 min read


It seems we're all waking up to how our everyday choices impact the planet. But the skincare industry has been slow to catch on.

Ultimately that’s why when we decided to launch SBTRCT; to create guilt free skincare, so your ethics don’t have to be left at the bathroom door.

For us this isn't just about finding the right formulations and making ethical manufacturing decisions, it also includes packaging. 

Unbelievably, this is still a huge challenge facing the skincare industry.  Many of our high street stores are packed with products from multinationals still making a choice to use single-use plastics. Many are moving in the right direction, but the change isn’t happening quickly enough.

As consumers ourselves, we know it’s not always easy to decipher what brands and businesses are telling us. We hear and see words like recyclable, compostable and biodegradable all the time. But what do they actually mean, and how do they apply to SBTRCT?


Did you know that only 50% of bathroom waste is actually recycled?*

Whether that’s because it’s going into the bathroom waste bin with non-recyclables and then doesn’t get sorted, or because many “sophisticated” packaging solutions are made up of several components (some recyclable and some not) making it too time-consuming to recycle. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t work. 

Unfortunately, even if something is recycled, the facilities in the UK often can’t cope with the volume and waste finds itself on a slow boat to other countries!

We believe that brands need to take responsibility. It’s not just down to the consumer choices. Products need to be packaged using materials that are convenient to dispose of responsibly, minimising the impact on the planet. 


Biodegradable refers to a product breaking down into natural elements such as carbon dioxide and water vapor by organisms like bacteria and fungi. Sound good? Well, technically, just about everything is biodegradable, although it will take hundreds of thousands of years for most things to biodegrade.

When biodegradable products are dumped into landfills, which happens when they're thrown into the bin, they often become buried. Beneficial bacteria cannot survive buried underneath that rubbish because there is very little oxygen.

As a result, the biodegradable products break down anaerobically, meaning without oxygen, which creates methane, a greenhouse gas that is bad for the environment. Some landfills collect methane that is produced in their landfills and use it to create electricity, but most do not.

To add to this, many local authorities simply don’t have the infrastructure to ensure biodegradable packaging is dealt with in the right way.


The term compostable is again, widely used, but with little understanding.  Some “compostable” packaging is in fact only “industrially compostable”.  This means it has to go to an industrial facility with special machines that can break down the packaging.  The problem is, not every local authority has one of these plants and neither do they have an infrastructure in place to ensure the packaging reaches them.

Our product packaging however is domestically compostable - the cartons, the paper, the tamper seal - the lot!  This means you can take it, put it in your compost bin at home and it will break down into fertile soil for use in your garden.  Alternatively, if you don’t have a compost bin, then it is also widelyand easilyrecycled - no rinsing, no drying, no nothing. 

We’d definitely recommend giving composting a go though.  Trust us, yourhardy perennials will thank you for it!

*Recycle Now data, BBC