- Biodegradable products are products that can be broken down and
decomposed by microbes and other natural processes. They consist of
food waste, paper, wood and fabric. In the absence of moisture and air,
decomposition slows and methane, a greenhouse gas, is released.
- The term is often used in relation to waste management, ecology, and
the bioremediation of the natural environment. It is now commonly
associated with environmentally-friendly products, capable of
decomposing back into natural elements.
- Although often conflated, biodegradable is distinct in meaning from:
compostable. While biodegradable simply means can be consumed by
microorganisms, compostable makes the further specific demand that
the object break down under composting conditions.
- Organic material can be degraded aerobically (with oxygen) or
anaerobically (without oxygen). Decomposition of biodegradable
substances may include both biological and abiotic steps.
Although much of what ends up in landfills is biodegradable, it won't break
down if it is not exposed to air and moisture due to the fact microbes need a
warm and moist environment to thrive. This prevents the microorganisms from
decomposing the garbage quickly, unlike what happens when biodegradable
materials are composted.