The Facts About Biodegradable Products
by Darren Williger
- Oxygen - Carbon dioxide Co2 and water H2O
Because a product is advertised as biodegradable it doesn't necessarily mean that it
is good for the environment. No guidelines exist with which to aid buyers of products
which are advertised as biodegradable. These products may actually be
biodegradable since they eventually break down into their natural elements but it
doesn't necessarily mean that they are safe for the environment.
Being Biodegradable Isn't Always Safe
Different biodegradable elements tend to break down into natural elements over a
certain period of time. Some of them break down into natural elements which may
be harmful to the health of both flora and fauna alike. One such element is
nonylphenolethoxylate otherwise known as NDE; this element is a constituent part of
many cleaning supplies we use today. The natural elements that make up NDE
include carbon, hydrogen as well as oxygen, thus most people assume that when it is
broken down it should break down into these same elements. However this is not
the case, NDE actually breaks down to become a harmful benzene compound that is
damaging to female reproductive organs.
How Long It Takes Is another Factor
Something else that is of importance and considerable concern is the period that a
product takes to break down into its constituent parts. Something like a loaf of bread
is totally biodegradable. It can actually break down into simple sugars in a mere
matter of days. Paper on the other hand may take up to 5 months to degrade into
its proper constituent elements.
One other problem is the disposal methods that are used to get rid of the products
we wish to dispose of. A natural compost pile makes it easy for normal food to
degrade easily. If waste on the other hand is placed among other forms of garbage
natural and unnatural alike, it may take months to or even years to decompose.
Researchers have found apple cores that were more than two decades old in
garbage landfills. If you seek out better ways to dispose of biodegradable material,
you can help speed up the degrading process and make the resultant products safer.
These are average indicators of the period of time that it takes to breakdown
a biodegradable product completely.
- Paper: 2-5 weeks
- Banana peel: 3-5 weeks
- Orange peels: 6 months
- Cotton rags 1-5 months
- Cigarette butts: 1-12 years
- Plastic or cardboard milk carton: 5 years
Returning To Nature
Any products that come from nature such as plants, minerals and animals will
eventually return to their natural states over time. Products that are man-made such
as petrochemical products cannot be broken down by microorganisms into natural
elements. They will simply remain non-degradable and will continue to litter the earth
About The Author
Darren Williger is an over-caffeinated, low carbohydrate eating, winemaking
enthusiast who writes for , , and .
Biodegradable materials are supposed
to be environmentally friendly but
sometimes this expectation isn't
What Is Biodegradable?
In order for a product to be classified
as a biodegradable product, it must
be able to be broken down into its
constituent natural elements and be
absorbed by the environment. Real
biodegradable material will often
break down into:
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