What’s the difference between biodegradable, degradable and compostable waste?

Waste management has become a significant challenge in the modern world, with the increasing population and industrialization. Proper disposal of waste is crucial to reduce environmental pollution and preserve the planet’s natural resources. Biodegradable, degradable, and compostable waste are three terms often used interchangeably to describe waste disposal methods. However, these terms have different meanings and implications for the environment. In this article, we will explore the differences between biodegradable, degradable, and compostable waste.

Biodegradable Waste:

Biodegradable waste is a type of waste that breaks down naturally into simpler compounds over time. Microorganisms like bacteria and fungi decompose the waste, converting it into water, carbon dioxide, and biomass. Biodegradable waste includes organic waste like food scraps, plant matter, and animal waste. Biodegradable waste can be disposed of in landfills, composting, and anaerobic digestion.

Degradable Waste:

Degradable waste is a type of waste that breaks down into smaller pieces over time. Unlike biodegradable waste, degradable waste does not necessarily convert into simpler compounds or completely disappear. Degradable waste includes materials like plastic, paper, and cardboard. Degradable waste can be disposed of in landfills, composting, and recycling.

Compostable Waste:

Compostable waste is a type of waste that can break down into organic matter and enrich the soil. Compostable waste can be broken down through the process of composting, which is a natural process of recycling organic waste into a nutrient-rich fertilizer. Compostable waste includes organic waste like food scraps, paper, and cardboard. However, not all biodegradable waste is compostable waste. Compostable waste needs to meet specific standards and regulations to ensure that it breaks down properly and does not harm the environment. Composting is an excellent way to manage organic waste and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

If you’re trying to reduce your environmental impact, compostable items are a good option. Composting an item means it won’t end up in a landfill, and if you compost at home, you can use that organic matter to help your (or your neighbor’s) garden grow. In addition, the labeling of compostable goods is often more straightforward, so you can be sure you’re choosing a more eco-friendly product.

That said, compostable products require certain conditions to break down, so it’s important to commit to actually composting those items, rather than sending them to a landfill. Also, if an item is identified as commercially compostable, make sure you have access to a facility that can handle the waste. Bioplastics are in some ways an improvement over conventional plastics, but they can still have a negative impact on the environment if they’re disposed of improperly. As always, the best option is to reduce your consumption, reuse what you already have, and avoid single-use products as much as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

It would be difficult to avoid everything biodegradable because, given enough time, almost everything will decompose. Use reusable things whenever possible, or recycle as much as you can. Everything else, even packaging marked as biodegradable and compostable (unless it can be picked up by your local authority or is suitable for home composting), should be disposed of with general rubbish.

In conclusion, biodegradable, degradable, and compostable waste are three different methods of waste disposal. Biodegradable waste breaks down into simpler compounds through the action of microorganisms, while degradable waste breaks down into smaller pieces over time. Compostable waste breaks down into organic matter and enriches the soil, making it a valuable resource for agriculture. Proper disposal of waste is crucial to protect the environment and preserve the planet’s natural resources. Therefore, it is essential to understand the differences between these waste disposal methods to choose the most appropriate one for the type of waste generated.

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