Biodegradable substances are materials that can be broken down, decomposed, and returned to the environment by natural biological processes. These substances are typically made from organic materials such as plant-based plastics, paper, and food waste. Biodegradable materials can be broken down by bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms, which convert the materials into simpler substances such as water, carbon dioxide, and biomass.
Examples of biodegradable substances include:
- Bioplastics made from renewable resources such as corn starch, sugarcane, and vegetable oils.
- Compostable materials such as food scraps, yard waste, and paper products.
- Natural fibers such as cotton, linen, and hemp.
Biodegradable substances can be an alternative to traditional plastic, which can take hundreds of years to decompose in the environment and contribute to pollution. Biodegradable materials can help to reduce the amount of waste in landfills and can be used in a wide range of applications, such as packaging materials, disposable products, and agricultural mulch.
It is important to note that biodegradable materials are not the same as compostable materials, and they are not always the best solution for the environment. For example, biodegradable plastics may breakdown into microplastics which can harm marine life and other organisms. Additionally, biodegradable materials may not break down in the environment if not disposed of properly, such as in an industrial composting facility.
Non-biodegradable substances are materials that do not break down and decompose naturally in the environment. They are typically made from synthetic or man-made materials such as plastic, metal, glass, and synthetic fibers. These materials do not break down into simpler substances through natural processes and can persist in the environment for hundreds or even thousands of years.
Examples of non-biodegradable substances include:
- Traditional plastics such as polyethylene, polypropylene, and polystyrene.
- Metal cans and bottles
- Glass bottles and jars
- Synthetic fibers such as nylon and polyester
The persistence of non-biodegradable substances in the environment can have negative consequences, such as pollution and harm to wildlife. These materials can also take up space in landfills, as they do not decompose and add to the waste in landfills.
In order to reduce the negative impact of non-biodegradable substances on the environment, it is important to practice proper waste management and recycling of these materials. For example, recycling plastic and metal cans can help to reduce the amount of these materials in landfills and decrease the demand for new resources.
Important Differences between Biodegradable and Non-Biodegradable Substances
- Decomposition: Biodegradable substances can be broken down, decomposed, and returned to the environment by natural biological processes, whereas non-biodegradable substances do not break down in the environment and persist for hundreds or even thousands of years.
- Origin: Biodegradable substances are typically made from organic materials such as plant-based plastics, paper, and food waste, whereas non-biodegradable substances are typically made from synthetic or man-made materials such as plastic, metal, glass, and synthetic fibers.
- Impact on the environment: Biodegradable substances can have a lesser impact on the environment as they can be broken down by natural processes and do not contribute to pollution. Non-biodegradable substances, on the other hand, can have a negative impact on the environment as they do not break down and can persist in the environment for a long time, contributing to pollution and harm to wildlife.
- Landfill: Biodegradable materials can break down in a landfill which helps to reduce the amount of waste in landfills, whereas non-biodegradable materials do not break down in a landfill and take up space.
- Recycling: Biodegradable substances are not always recyclable, whereas non-biodegradable substances can be recycled to a certain extent.
- Compostability: Biodegradable substances can be composted, whereas non-biodegradable substances cannot.
- Microplastics: Biodegradable plastics may breakdown into microplastics which can harm marine life and other organisms, whereas non-biodegradable plastics do not break down into microplastics.