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Difference between Biodegradable and Non-Biodegradable

Every day, we create a large amount of waste that we discard or toss away. Kitchen waste such as fruit and vegetable peels, empty milk cartons, used tea bags, and a variety of other items like juices, plastic bags, paper, soiled clothes, and outdated shoes are just a few examples of these materials. The action of bacteria or other decomposers can quickly decompose many of these things, including paper, vegetable, and fruit peels. Compounds that degrade quickly due to bacterial action are biodegradable. Compounds that are difficult for biological systems to degrade, such as plastics, steel cans, and insecticides, are referred to as non-biodegradable.

The development of technology has raised living standards and spawned new lifestyles. This has detrimental effects on the ecology and several types of life on earth. Plastic water bottles, for example, are convenient to use and transport, but when they are thrown away, nature is put to the test.

There is a lot of waste, both biodegradable and not. Garbage must therefore be properly categorised and disposed off. As a result, trash is divided into biodegradable and non-biodegradable categories.

Meaning of Biodegradable

A substance or material is considered biodegradable if it can be easily broken down by bacteria or other natural creatures without causing pollution. Wastes that degrade quickly due to abiotic factors including temperature, UV, oxygen, and other natural elements like bacteria, fungi, and other microbes are known as biodegradable wastes. Food wastes, kitchen wastes, and other organic wastes are a few examples of these wastes. Microorganisms break down complex compounds into simple organic matter that finally suspends and disperses throughout the earth along with other abiotic components. The process is entirely natural and could move rapidly or slowly. Consequently, there are not many risks or environmental issues connected to biodegradable waste.

Difference between Biodegradable and Non-Biodegradable

Examples of Biodegradable

However, the extensive accumulation of trash may make some risks to human existence worse. Composting is something that some individuals do as a preventative strategy. For composting, the biodegradable waste is dumped into a big pit and left there for a while. They will decompose because of this bacterial action and be utilised as compost for gardening. Less garbage will consequently end up in landfills.

Biodegradable Waste

A sort of trash known as "biodegradable waste" is one that naturally originates from plant or animal sources and can be decomposed by other living organisms. Municipal solid waste frequently includes biodegradable garbage, including biodegradable plastics, food waste, and green waste. Some of the causes include things like sewage, abattoir waste, and human faeces.

Biodegradable Plastic

Biodegradable plastic is a type of plastic that is frequently created from natural by-products and produced under strict temperature and humidity settings to decompose when it meets bacteria... Bioplastic is the term for most biodegradable and compostable plastics, which are typically derived from plants (such bamboo or sugarcane) rather than fossil fuels. These bioplastics must have their composability validated in accordance with international standards so that they can be used in commercial composting facilities to be fairly and effectively biodegradable. The European EN 13432 is one of the most well-known biodegradability standards. Standards on this topic were analysed by Nature last, and for something to be deemed biodegradable, it must:

  1. Be at least 50% volatile.
  2. After the first 12 weeks of composting, be able to fragment at least 10% of its weight over a 2mm sieve.
  3. In no more than six months, degrade at least 90% faster than a reference material.
  4. Additionally, in terms of toxicity, the final compost must perform at least 90% better than the related reference compost, under OCDE 208.

Meaning of Non-biodegradable

Non-biodegradable wastes are those that cannot be broken down or removed by a biological process. Most of them include organic trash that will not break down. The term "non-biodegradable material" refers to a class of materials that cannot be degraded by living things and are therefore a source of pollution.

Difference between Biodegradable and Non-Biodegradable

Non-biodegradable wastes are more challenging to manage than biodegradable wastes. Non-biodegradable wastes are those that cannot be broken down or destroyed by biological processes. They remain intact on the earth for tens of thousands of years without ageing or breaking down. As a result, they provide a more dangerous threat. Plastic is a notable example because it is used often across all industries. Better plastics are being employed to provide these polymers a long-lasting result. They improved in strength and temperature resistance even after use. Additional examples include metals, chemicals, and cans used in industry and agriculture. They are the main contributors to diseases like cancer as well as pollution of the air, water, and soil. Non-biodegradable trash must be changed out or replaced because they do not respect the environment at all. The development of novel concepts by scientists, such as biodegradable polymers, is a result of the increase of available options. They created certain polymers and biodegradable materials that break down swiftly and easily. But the cost of this procedure is high. "Recyclable waste" refers to non-biodegradable trash that may be recycled and used again, as opposed to "non-recyclable waste," which cannot be used again.

Effects of Waste Material on Environment

Waste is frequently grown in great quantities all around the world. Each year, billions of tonnes of trash are produced. These wastes are results of activities that take place in our homes, workplaces, and industries, and their vast disposal is a significant environmental problem. Agriculture, urban and industrial solid waste, and biomass deposits are the main causes of widespread land and water contamination. The generation of trash results in the destruction of resources and energy as well as an increase in the society's environmental expenditures for waste collection, treatment, and disposal. Because of the greenhouse gas emissions from landfills and incinerators, such as methane and carbon dioxide, as well as the transboundary movement of organic micropollutants like dioxins and furans and volatile heavy metals, these processes have substantial environmental impacts. Problems with trash go back as far as humans.

After realising that trash can be a cause of illness, diseases, and infections, people quickly dump their junk, which was biological in origin, away from the area. The first municipal landfill, built in 500 BC outside of ancient Greece, required waste to be disposed of outside the city limits by at least a mile and covered with earth to comply with rules. Waste can naturally dissolve or disintegrate because it was primarily organic before industrialization. Later, because of industry, urbanisation, and social advancement, the amount of waste quickly increased.


Whether biodegradable or not, they are dangerous for human life, other living things, and the environment. Wastes must therefore be carefully treated. Waste reduction is a task that everyone can contribute to; it is not only the government's job. Recycle, reuse, and reduce are the three "Rs," and they are all straightforward actions that everyone can take. This has the potential to conserve plenty of energy and other resources. Another step is to sort your household waste into biodegradable and non-biodegradable items and dispose of each one separately.

What are the optimal conditions for biodegradation?

A perfect balance of temperature, water, oxygen, and bacteria promotes biodegradation. For instance, under controlled conditions, an orange can have a lengthy shelf life in a refrigerator. However, it starts to degrade whenever it is exposed to an environment with the prerequisites for biodegradation. Just picture the orange you forgot you had in your fruit bowl! The orange is transferred from a low light and low temperature environment to a high light and elevated temperature environment. This accelerates the biodegradation of the orange by speeding up how quickly bacteria degrade it.

Why choosing materials suitable for their use matters

When materials are placed in situations where they would biodegrade very slowly or not at all, problems may arise. This problem can arise with materials like plastic. Do not get us wrong; there are applications for plastic, many of which require slow biodegradation. For instance, PVC, which is resistant to biodegradation, is an ideal substance for sewage systems. But there are some uses for which plastics are not the best choice, such as sandwich packing, where materials that degrade quickly would not be acceptable as pipes for drainage systems. We would not want our drainage systems to decompose, of course. However, there are specific circumstances when it may be appropriate for packaging to degrade differently than plastic. We do not need these single-use plastics to persist, like sandwich bags or plastic bottles. Companies frequently employ polylactic acid (PLA) as packaging as a biodegradable substitute for plastics derived from fossil fuels. PLA has many advantages, not the least of which is that it has a small carbon impact because it is made of plants. However, PLA must reach a temperature of 58 °C before it starts to degrade. If this temperature is not attained, biodegradation will not happen. Therefore, PLA can only be disposed off in an industrial composting facility.

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