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Biodegradable & Non-Biodegradable Materials: Effects, Disadvantages and Examples

Biodegradable Materials

A biodegradable substance is a material that can be decomposed by microorganisms. Biodegradable wastes are essentially classified as waste materials that decompose and are degraded by factors like temperature, UV radiation, oxygen, microorganism, and abiotic conditions. Some examples of such wastes are leftover food materials, kitchen wastes such as unused vegetable stocks, and other natural wastes. The microorganism and abiotic factors help to break down the complex substance into a simple substance that disperses and decomposes into the soil. These processes may be fast or slow. The biodegradable waste causes a large amount of microbial floral waste and a bad smell of burning, due to the release of many gases.

Non-Biodegradable Materials

Non-biodegradable substances are those that cannot be broken down by an organism and they result in all sorts of pollution. They cannot be easily managed and handled. That substance that doesn't decompose will remain in the soil for thousands of years, and the damage caused is critical. For example, discarding plastic. To improve the long-term effect of these materials on the planet, many improved quality plastics are used. These are still the top reasons for causing air, water, and soil pollution. It also causes many serious problems like cancer and is not eco-friendly. Various parameters are to be taken into account while differentiating between the two types of materials, the list of differences is given below -

Parameter Biodegradable Non-biodegradable
Definition They are substances that are decomposable by microorganisms They are substances that cannot be decomposed by microorganisms
Waste Decomposition Rate The decomposition of biodegradable matter is faster as compared to that of non-biodegradable matter The decomposition of non-biodegradable matter is very slow as compared to that of the biodegradable matter
Decomposition Source Decomposition takes place due to microorganisms Decomposition does not take place due to microorganisms
Accumulation Rate The accumulation of these matters is low as they rapidly decompose The accumulation of these matters is very high as they don’t decompose
Alternatives These substances can be utilized as fertilizers, generation of biogas, composting, and so on Non-biodegradable elements can be separated and recycled
Cost Cost of decomposition is less as it is natural Recycling is the only solution and it is very expensive

Effects of Waste in the Environment:

1. Biodegradable plastic helps in carbon emissions reduction.
2. It helps to consume less energy. The formation of biodegradable plastic takes less energy.
3. For this process, less area field is required. The plastic that is non-biodegradable is bought on land to discard them.
4. It is easily recycled. Biodegradable plastic is non-toxic because it doesn't contain any chemicals.

Disadvantages of Biodegradable plastic

1. Need for the composter
2. Issue of engineering
3. High risk of contamination

Examples of Biodegradable Waste

  • Food waste
  • Human waste
  • Paper waste
  • Manure
  • Sewage
  • Hospital waste
  • Sewage sludge
  • Slaughterhouse waste

Examples of Non-Biodegradable Waste

  • Glass
  • Metal
  • Batteries
  • Plastic bottles
  • Tetra packs
  • Medical waste
  • Carbon paper

ANTHE 2022

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