Biodegradable products are made from materials that will decompose with the help of microorganisms such as bacteria or fungi, with or without oxygen. In short, it means that an item is going to decomposed without leaving any pollution behind.
In reality, every product that we use will ultimately break down. However, the question is how long it will take for it to do so. It certainly takes an awfully long time for plastic packaging to decompose.
Hence scientist came up with biodegradable plastic to fight plastic pollution.
Biodegradable plastics are usually made with renewable raw materials, microorganism, petrochemicals (no so good for the environment) or a combination of all three.
If biodegradable items get buried in a landfill without exposure to bacteria, oxygen, heat or light, they would never decompose, just like single-use plastic.
So it’s vital to research how the biodegradable product we plan to buy will be disposed of or recycled.
A much better replacement for biodegradable plastic is compostable or bioplastics, which aren’t made from fossil fuels but plant-based materials such as bamboo or sugarcane. Bioplastics and compostable materials break down into water, oxygen and compost.
Compostable packaging is often used for takeaway foods. Even if the food gets mixed up with compostable plastic, everything can be disposed of together, as food is compostable as well.
Compostable goods are fully biodegradable; nevertheless, for the process to occur, the right composting environment needs to be provided, which will allow those products to break down within 90 days, leaving the soil beautifully nurtured. Awesome result!!!
If you have a compost heap or bin at home, keep in mind that only a tiny fraction of compostable plastic can be placed in either. Most of the compostable plastic will need high temperature and humidity to break down, which can only occur in the industrial composter.
For bioplastic to break down in natural conditions, microorganisms need to be introduced in the process. In the natural environment, the product will break down into the water, carbon dioxide and other minerals allowing the earth to absorb all the elements, leaving nothing toxic behind.
Some products that will naturally biodegrade in a domestic compost heap or in nature won’t break down in generic landfills because of a lack of bacteria, water or light for the process to take place.
Keep in mind that whether you choose biodegradable, compostable or bioplastic products, they will need to be provided with the right environment to break down, and some of the products require a professional composting facility. Always make sure you know how to recycle any of those products.
In my opinion, the best thing we, consumers, can do is to avoid buying single-use plastic and opt for reusable options while aiming at gravitating towards naturally biodegradable products, which will reduce waste, and pollution.
Natural biodegradable materials include:
– Human and animal excreta,
– Plant products such as natural rubber, paper, wood, leaves, cotton, wool, etc
– Dead remains of living organisms,
– Kitchen waste,
– Agricultural waste.