When exposed to light, air, moisture and microbes, biodegradable materials break down to natural elements that are found in nature. While all materials can technically break down, many petroleum-based plastics take tens of thousands of years to do so and leave toxins in the surrounding soil. ‘Biodegradable’ products should biodegrade within a single generation, and leave nothing but water, carbon dioxide, naturally occurring minerals and biomass behind. The core principle of compostability is to leave soil enriched by the composting of a material. While similar, biodegradation and compostability are not the same: correct biodegradation adds no nutrients while not harming the soil.
Bio-based materials are made from biomass, for example sugar cane or corn starch. Materials intentionally made from substances derived from living (or once-living) organisms. Bio-based materials or biomaterials fall under the broader category of bioproducts or bio-based products which includes materials, chemicals and energy derived from renewable biological resources.
An economic system based on the reuse and regeneration of materials or products, especially as a means of continuing production in a sustainable or environmentally friendly way. «the notion of a circular economy has gained traction, with many companies looking to operate in a way which minimizes waste».
The process of biodegradation under anaerobic conditions (without oxygen) in 6 to 12 weeks is called “industrially compostable”. When in a suitable environment or place, industrial compostable products break down polymers, bioplastics into CO2 and other elements into biomass or soil.
A suitable environment meets the following criteria:
– Ambient temperature between 50° and 70°C
– Suitable humidity (about 70% humidity)
– Adapted pressure
– Presence of certain types of microbes and in a certain quantity
It is possible to compost in 2 ways:
Home compost: A confined unit that creates the previously mentioned environment, often using food scraps, plant matter and worms.
Industrial compost: An industrial facility, often run by the city or local government, that takes and processes industrially approved material for large-scale composting. Industrial facilities create hotter environments with higher pressure than home composting.
the action or process of converting waste into reusable material.
reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original.