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Biodegradable and Non-biodegradable

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  • Difficulty Level : Easy
  • Last Updated : 05 Dec, 2022
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Biodegradable and Non-biodegradable are types of waste materials (or substances) that are categorized on the basis of their degradation. Biodegradable materials are substances that can be decomposed or broken down by microorganisms and other living organisms. Biodegradables generally include organic wastes like leftover foodstuffs, kitchen waste like fruits and vegetable peels, etc. However, Non-Biodegradable materials are substances that cannot be decomposed or broken down by microorganisms and other living organisms rather leading to pollution. Non-Biodegradables are generally inorganic wastes like plastic bags, cans, bottles, chemicals, etc. Let’s learn more about Biodegradable and Non-biodegradable waste materials in this article!

What is Biodegradable?

A biodegradable substance or material is one that may quickly break down by bacteria or any other natural organisms without contributing to pollution.

Kitchen waste, food waste, and other naturally occurring waste are a few examples of biodegradable waste. Biodegradable wastes are waste materials that are and can be easily degraded by natural factors like microbes (e.g., bacteria, fungi, and a few others), and abiotic components like temperature, UV, oxygen, etc. Together with other abiotic components, microorganisms decompose complicated materials into simple organic matter that eventually suspends and dissipates into the earth. The entire procedure, which might go quickly or slowly, is natural. Therefore, there are very few hazards and environmental problems associated with biodegradable garbage.

Examples of Biodegradable Materials

Here are some important examples of Biodegradable Materials:

  • Paper
  • Food waste
  • Human waste
  • Manure
  • Sewage sludge
  • Slaughterhouse waste
  • Dead animals and plants
  • Hospital Waste, etc.

Biodegradable Waste

The type of waste that can be broken down by other living things mainly comes from plant or animal sources and is called Biodegradable Waste.

Biodegradable Waste

 

Green garbage, food waste, paper waste, and biodegradable plastics are all common examples of biodegradable waste that can be found in municipal solid waste. Human waste, manure, sewage, and slaughterhouse waste are examples of additional biodegradable wastes.

What is Non-Biodegradable?

A non-biodegradable material is any type of substance that is a cause of pollution and cannot be degraded by living things.

Non-biodegradable wastes cannot be handled as easily as biodegradable trash. Wastes that are not biodegradable cannot be broken down or eliminated by natural processes. They endure on earth for a very long time without degrading. 

As a result, the threat they pose is likewise more serious. Plastics, which are frequently used materials in practically every sector, are a remarkable example. Improved quality plastics are being used to offer these polymers a long-lasting effect. They became more durable even after use and more temperature resistant as a result. Cans, metals, and chemicals used in agriculture and industry are more examples.

Non-Biodegradable Waste

 

Examples of Non-Biodegradable Materials

  • Glass
  • Plastic
  • Metals
  • Hazardous substances
  • Pesticides
  • Fibers
  • E-waste
  • Artificial rubber
  • Artificial polymers, etc.

Non-Biodegradable Waste

A substance that cannot break down or dissolve naturally and causes pollution is referred to as non-biodegradable waste.

Degradation is not possible with these products because they are manufactured and do not occur naturally. Therefore, they damage our environment when they exist in the ecosystem for a long time without decomposing. Examples of non-biodegradable garbage include polystyrene, metal, aluminium cans, tires, paint, poisonous chemicals, and plastics.

Difference Between Biodegradable and Non-biodegradable

Biodegradable

Non-Biodegradable

Biodegradable materials can be decomposed naturally by microorganisms and other living organisms.Non-Biodegradable materials can not be decomposed naturally by any living organisms.
The decomposition of such materials takes place in presence of air, sunlight, water, soil, microorganisms, and all.However, Non-Biodegradable wastes can not decay in the ecosystem naturally and create pollution.
Biodegradable wastes come from organic things like kitchen waste, paper, organic waste, etc.While non-biodegradable wastes are manufactured chemically, therefore found to become from human activities
Faster Rate of Decomposition.Slower Rate of Decomposition.
Such waste is useful for the production of fertilizers, manure, compost, biogas, etc.This waste is needed to be separated first and get recycled, which is expensive and time-consuming.
e.g. Kitchen waste, Human waste, Manure, Sewage sludge, Dead animals and plants, etc.e.g. Glass, Plastic, Metals, Hazardous substances, Pesticides, Fibers, etc.

FAQs on Biodegradable and Non-Biodegradable

Question 1: What does the term Biodegradable mean?

Answer:

A biodegradable substance or material is one that may quickly break down by bacteria or any other natural organisms without contributing to pollution.

Question 2: What are the Effects of Waste Material on the Environment?

Answer: 

Poor waste management directly impacts numerous ecosystems and species as well as air pollution and climate change.

Methane, a significant greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change, is produced by landfills, which are the final step in the waste management hierarchy.

Question 3: What are the differences between Biodegradable and Non-Biodegradable Waste?

Answer:

Following are the differences between Biodegradable and Non-Biodegradable Waste:

Biodegradable Waste

Non-Biodegradable Waste

The decomposition of such materials takes place in presence of air, sunlight, water, soil, microorganisms, and all.However, Non-Biodegradable wastes can not decay in the ecosystem naturally and create pollution.
Biodegradable wastes come from organic things like kitchen waste, paper, organic waste, etc.While, non-biodegradable wastes are manufactured chemically, therefore found to become from human activities
Faster Rate of Decomposition.Slower Rate of Decomposition.
Such waste is useful for the production of fertilizers, manure, compost, biogas, etc.This waste is needed to be separated first and get recycled, which is expensive and time-consuming.
e.g. Kitchen waste, Human waste, Manure, Sewage sludge, Dead animals and plants, etc.e.g. Glass, Plastic, Metals, Hazardous substances, Pesticides, Fibers, etc.

Question 4: Do biodegradable substances affect the environment and how?

Answer:

Biodegradable materials are decomposed down by the microorganisms, for instance, bacteria and fungi. They degrade down into simpler soluble substances and are therefore, used as a source of nutrients by these organisms. Some of these materials mix well into the soil thereby increasing its fertility. 

Question 5: Why should we segregate biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes?

Answer:

Biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes should be discarded in different bins to ensure: 

  • Separate collection and dealing
  • Effective treatment and disposal.
  • Prevent the formation of toxic compounds on their mixing
  • Prevent emission and pollution in the environment.

The biodegradable waste, for example, can be decomposed naturally, that is, by the process of composting. Non-biodegradable wastes, however, can be sent for recycling.

Question 6: How to minimize plastic-related Environmental problems?

Answer:

Plastic is now an integral part of our life. Plastic industry is growing with a lot many Environmental problems. We have various options and technologies, but each one has its own merits and demerits.

  1. Is it possible to ban plastic? The answer may be a big No.
  2. We may ban a particular type of plastic? If yes, what type of plastic could be banned?
  3. Reduce it use? But the problem will be there again.
  4. Recycling is one good option but not cost-effective.

Question 7: How are Things Biodegraded?

Answer:

The process of biodegradation is initiated mainly by the microorganisms like bacteria and fungi. Microorganisms depend on their enzymes to start the breakdown of substances. This process is carried in the presence of suitable optimum conditions like temperature, moisture, pH of the medium, oxygen level. Biological catalysts such as enzymes can be used to increase the rate of the reaction.  

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