Biodegradable and Non-Biodegradable Substances

Sustainable living is a way of life that aims to inculcate the habit of living in such a way that it leaves the least amount of carbon footprint possible. It basically attempts to reduce an individual’s and the society’s misuse of the Earth’s natural resources and personal resources by changing methods of energy consumption, transportation, and diet.

Everything around us is either biodegradable or non-biodegradable. Banana peels, leaves, and most other food materials are examples of biodegradable material while plastics, cans, and Styrofoam are not biodegradable.

There are times when one might be confused whether something is biodegradable or non-biodegradable and that’s a risk to take since it poses a threat to the environment.

Therefore, knowing what biodegradable and non-biodegradable are can help prevent pollution. Separating wastes the right way goes a long way in providing a solution to these environmental issues.

What are Biodegradable Wastes?

Biodegradable means that a substance can be easily decomposed by naturally occurring agents such as oxygen, water, ultraviolet rays, microbes, acid rains, etc.

Biodegradable Materials

For instance, when a banana peel or any other chopped vegetables and other food items is left in the open, several harmful micro-organisms, including bacteria, fungi or small insects act upon it in a relatively short period of time. This is because, the natural elements like moisture, oxygen and heat help in the decomposition by breaking the complex organic structures into simpler units. The decomposed material will eventually mix and return to the soil.

Also Read: Decomposition

What are Non-Biodegradable Wastes?

Non-Biodegradable MaterialsOn the other hand, non-biodegradable substances do not break down or dissolve for many years. Because of that, they can be recycled and reused. So, instead of throwing wastes in the garbage, it can be dumped in a proper recycling place making it useful for other purposes.

Take the papers and thin boards as examples. Although they shrink, they do not dissolve or vanish for a very long time. They remain as debris in unattended holes, water bodies, etc, which has the ability to harm our environment. The best way to prevent that is to recycle the paper and use it again.

Non-Biodegradable Materials

Non-biodegradable materials are not easily affected by the natural process as they do not react with and dissolve in the soil easily. Some of these items that are commonly used in day to day lives are plastic products, aluminium cans, bottles, metal scraps,  glasses, grocery bags and Styrofoam (polystyrene). These and other non-biodegradable items have to be stored properly after use so that they can be recycled.

Examples of Biodegradable and Non-Biodegradable Wastes

All the wastes produced by humans, animal waste, plant products, dried leaves, grass, fruits, flowers, food wastes, wood and other remains of the death of living creatures are grouped into Biodegradable wastes. Non-Biodegradable wastes include all toxic substances, chemicals, paints, plastic goods, rubber, metals, etc.

Difference Between Biodegradable and Non-Biodegradable Wastes

             Biodegradable           Non-biodegradable
Can be decomposed by natural agents Cannot be decomposed by natural agents
Accumulation does not happen as they get decomposed These often accumulate at one place for years
These can be used for the generation of energy through biogas or compost These can be recycled using industrial methods
They are mostly non-toxic and not harmful to the environment These are highly toxic and harmful for the environment


To know more about biodegradable and non-biodegradable substances, visit BYJU’S.



Learn Better through BYJU'S Quiz


Leave a Comment

Your Mobile number and Email id will not be published.