What Are Biodegradable Products?
Many items available today are touted as biodegradable products and many environmentally concerned citizens find this trend to be a positive step when it comes to envisioning a cleaner planet.
But how do we know when a product is biodegradable and which products are best for the environment?
A biodegradable material that is made from eco-friendly material that will decompose, whether it be in a municipal landfill or as roadside litter.
Some biodegradable products are created come from natural sources. Plants or other natural fibers, for instance, can become the basis for a biodegradable product. Cotton and jute are prime examples.
Animals as well can contribute with wool or alpaca fibers. These materials are also considered environmentally-safe.
All of these materials will decompose naturally because they are not fabricated.
When it comes to biodegradable products in the plastics industry, we ascend to another level beyond what nature can provide. Biodegradable plastics have chemical additives that will accelerate the material’s breakdown. While many plastics can breakdown without any chemical treatment, the process can take several years to transpire.
On the other hand, biodegradable plastics can decompose within a few months. Much of this depends on the kinds of chemicals and the amounts added to the plastic polymerization. The amount of heat and oxygen also come into play, but at the end of the day, much of the material is consumed by microrganisms.
Here’s a partial list of decomposition time for several popular products from Wikipedia…
Paper towel 2–4 weeks
Newspaper 6 weeks
Apple core 2 months
Cardboard box 2 months
Wax coated milk carton 3 months
Cotton gloves 1–5 months
Wool gloves 1 year
Plywood 1–3 years
Painted wooden sticks 13 years
Tin cans 50 years
Disposable diapers 50–100 years
Aluminium cans 200 years
Plastic bottles 100 years
Plastic bags 10–20 years
Biodegradable plastic bags 2-3 months
Many of these products can be recycled, of course and decomposition, particularly as it relates to materials like plastic bottles, can overstate any environmental peril. Still, making a decision to purchase biodegradable products can go a long way in creating a more environment-friendly planet .
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