The biodegradability of materials can be defined as the capacity of certain materials or substances to decompose naturally in the environment by means of bacteria and enzymes present in the material itself or in soil, air, or water.
Each type of material has a certain average degradation time, however, the type of environment in which it is found also contributes, for example, cold and dry environments delay the biodegradability of materials, compared to higher temperatures and humidity.
Are all substances biodegradable?
The biodegradability of materials will depend on how a particular item is composed, e.g. fruit peels range from 2 to 6 months, depending on the item. Wood, on the other hand, can degrade under optimal conditions in up to 3 years. Human or animal bones have a degradation time of up to 15 years, while a glass bottle can take up to 4,000 years to reintegrate into the environment.
The vast majority of organic materials have a short degradation time, in the case of plastics, their degradation can be up to 500 years, however, there are currently many biodegradable plastics that have been launched on the market with the intention of combating the current pollution problem.
Biodegradable plastics are added with substances that allow them to decompose chemically thanks to the action of microorganisms, which considerably reduces the biodegradability time of the materials. In addition, there are many polymers that are not only biodegradable but also compostable, adding value to waste.
What can be done?
The truth is that it is not possible to replace all materials with high degradation times, the option we have to combat the problem of waste is that of reuse and recycling. Give a chance to those items that can have a second use and those that cannot learn to separate them correctly to facilitate the recycling process.