Green Glossary | Biodegradable


Something that is biodegradable is capable of being broken down or decomposed. This is caused by some biological action of bacteria, fungi, and other living organisms. Temperature and sunlight also play a role in this process. Biodegradable products do not possess harmful chemicals, plastic coatings, or the need for excessive energy to create them.

So what is a biodegradable product? It is made from material that is eco-friendly that can decompose in landfills and other environments. The source of the material determines whether a product is biodegradable. Natural materials that come from plants and other natural fibers, animal's natural fibers, and materials manufactured with a chemical base are all sources that contribute to a product being biodegradable. Some substances that are biodegradable include: food scraps, cotton, wool, wood, tree leaves, grass clippings, and manufactured products.

Some lengths of time certain products break down completely:
Paper: 2-5 weeks
Banana peel: 3-5 weeks
Orange peels: 6 months
Cotton rags 1-5 months
Cigarette butts: 1-12 years

Materials that do not possess the characteristic of being biodegradable stay in the environment for a long time and contribute to pollution.