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 as to 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.

Biodegradable Materials

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

Biodegradable Materials

For instance, when a banana peel is left in the open, several micro-organisms including bacteria, fungi or small insects act upon it in a relatively short period of time because 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 back to the soil.

Non-Biodegradable  Materials

Non-Biodegradable MaterialsOn the other hand, the 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 the environment. The best way to prevent that is to recycle the paper and use it again.

Non-Biodegradable MaterialsNon-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, aluminum 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.

             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 for the environment These are highly toxic and harmful for the environment

To know more about biodegradable and non-biodegradable substances, visit Byju’s.


Practise This Question

Which of these materials are not biodegradable?