Compost Vs. Recycling: Which Option Is Better for the Environment?

compost vs recycling
In this end-of-life hierarchy, recycling is the best ecological option after reducing the source of the waste and reusing it.

In general, recycling refers to the process of breaking down waste into ingredients that can be used to create something new; composting, on the other hand, refers to the process of breaking down waste into biodegradable elements that you can use to fertilize your garden.

Food and plant-based products are composted, whereas un-compostable paper, glass, and plastics are recycled.

What is better, recycling or composting?

Recycling is the best ecological option after reducing the source of the waste and reusing it.

Recycling is most effective in converting existing materials into something useful, thereby extending the life of those raw materials and reducing the need to extract natural resources otherwise.

What is the difference between recyclable and compostable?

A recyclable object can be repurposed for another use, whether it is the same item or a restored item that can be reused.

Often used as a catch-all term for sustainable products, this term refers to most materials that can be recycled.

Generally, recyclable materials are made of glass and plastic and can be repurposed into new useful products.

The materials that are compostable are organic in nature and decompose, leaving behind only nutrients that can be returned to the environment.

The vast majority of compost is composed of plants of some sort that eventually decompose into humus. The humus is then distributed to the soil to provide it with new nutrients for the growth of new plants.

Compostable plastic behaves similarly to other compostable materials, requiring a catalyst, such as heat, to break it down.

Benefits of Recycling

1. Ensures that raw materials and natural resources are conserved and respected.

Trees have already been cut down to make paper. Bioplastics can already be made from corn. To manufacture a soda can, aluminum has already been extracted. For the production of plastic, natural gas has already been extracted.

Recycling allows you to get more uses out of it.   

2. When you recycle and purchase recycled goods, you eliminate the need to convert raw materials into actual material, resulting in more efficient production, reduced emissions, and thereby reducing the environmental impact.

3. Reduce the amount of trash we send to landfills.

Landfills emit methane, a potent greenhouse gas. In addition, they often leach into groundwater, contaminating it.

They are a very unnecessary use of land if we can avoid them, and recycling more helps to reduce the amount of waste sent to them.

Benefits of Composting

1. The decomposition of organic matter – such as food scraps, leaves, grass – produces a biodiverse soil amendment.

You can use the compost produced to improve the soil moisture retention in your garden or even on a larger scale in agricultural projects.

2. Reduces the need for chemical fertilizers.

When soil requires less chemical fertilizer, less fertilizer runoff ends up in waterways, which can cause significant environmental damage.

3. Reduces the amount of trash that is sent to landfills. 

What’s the difference between compostable and biodegradable?

Compostable products require a specific environment to break down, while biodegradable products decompose naturally.

Is composting a type of recycling?

Composting is considered a type of recycling.

You can enrich your soil and plant life with a valuable fertilizer by composting organic waste, such as leaves and food scraps.

What can I recycle?

To contribute to waste management, you can place various recycled materials in a recycling bin. It is beneficial to the environment to participate in the recycling process.

The following items can be recycled:

  • Newspapers
  • Magazines/catalogs
  • Unwanted mail
  • School/office papers
  • Phone books
  • Paper bags
  • ALL cardboard boxes – (includes beverage cartons, tissue boxes, pizza boxes, dry food boxes, corrugated cardboard)
  • Brown paper bags
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Rigid plastic products
  • Metal containers, including tin, aluminum cans, and steel cans
  • Food waste, if your city has an organics collection program

What can I compost?

You may compost organic waste at home, and it is a great way to repurpose organic waste.

Compostable materials include:


Discovering composting as a way of life or even better, as nature’s way of recycling, Ana dedicates her time to trying out new methods of composting at home. Her goal is to share everything that she’s learned in the hopes that it will help others discover the amazing rewards of composting.

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