Why You Should Buy Biodegradable Products

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The ability of a product to be broken down by microbes and other biological factors is what makes it biodegradable. Other factors in biodegradation include moisture and air.  For a product to be considered “biodegradable,” it must be able to break down into organic matter at a rate similar to that of materials that occur naturally. Textiles and paper are biodegradable products, but petroleum-based plastics are not. The field of green chemistry revolves around creating products that have minimal environmental impact, which includes creating materials that degrade quickly and safely in the environment. Bioplastics are one product of green chemistry; these are plastics that are designed to biodegrade.

The Dangers of Using Non-Biodegradable Disposable Items

Items made from Styrofoam and plastic wind up in landfills by the ton every year. These products take centuries to degrade and when they do, they can leave toxic residue behind. Food service enterprises were once notorious for producing much of that non-biodegradable waste. In recent years, many in the food service industry have switched to biodegradable products made from vegetable matter like corn and sugar cane. Since they are made with naturally-occurring materials, these products break down easily in the soil.

Biodegradable Products and Landfills

The cost of landfills is high. In addition to paying for the land itself, the expense of preparing the land is also factored into the overall cost of opening a new landfill. That cost eventually gets passed on to municipal budgets and to you, the taxpayer. Waste products that are not biodegradable simply sit in landfills and take up space, essentially wasting your money. To make matter worse, most landfills do not provide the ideal environment for biodegradation. Biodegradable products may not be able to break down if there is not enough moisture and air. As a result, some landfills are being injected with water and microbes to enhance biodegradation. Diverting biodegradable waste from landfills by composting is another way to lower their cost and to make them more efficient. Composting provides the right amount of moisture and air to ensure that biodegradable products break down quickly.

Benefits of Using Biodegradable Instead of Petroleum-Based Plastics

  • The manufacture of biodegradable plastics results in far less environmental pollution when compared to plastics made from petroleum.
  • When biodegradable plastics break down, they do so into harmless, nontoxic elements. They produce only 32 percent of the greenhouse gases that are emitted by petroleum-based plastics.
  • Biodegradable plastics require only 35 percent of the energy needed to make petroleum-based plastics.
  • The production of petroleum-based plastics calls for 200,000 barrels of oil to be used each day. Using plastics that are not petroleum based can reduce the dependence on nonrenewable resources.
  • Biodegradable plastics that are made with organic matter can greatly reduce the nation’s municipal waste. Instead of being placed in landfills, these plastics can be placed in compost heaps. The compost produced can be used as fertilizer.

The use of biodegradable products is not the only solution to landfill problems or to the world’s environmental issues. However, it should be looked at as a part of the solution along with measures such as reducing consumption, reusing products and recycling.


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