What is a biodegradable product?
There is increasing pressure to reduce the quantity of persistent materials entering the environment. We have seen the significant environmental impacts caused by non-biodegradable products made from, or containing materials such as plastics. Plastic waste contaminates land, sea, and rivers because it does not typically break down through biological means.
Responsible retailers and manufacturers must therefore understand the end-of-life characteristic of the materials that they select. Where products cannot be recycled or re-used (and few materials are recycled at a meaningful scale), they are therefore likely to add to landfill or be incinerated. Understanding how they behave in these scenarios via measurements and metrics is necessary to manage the impacts and make informed choices.
There are many possibilities such as compostable, biodegradable, degradable but what is the difference? We will use dog waste bags as a case study as some people assume they can be thrown at the side of the path or in the hedge. Read on…..
What does degradable mean?
Degradable means a plastic bag will break down into smaller pieces over time (decades), effectively creating microplastic pollution which enters all of our planet’s ecosystems, even finding its way into our food chain. Not good!
What does Biodegradable mean?
For a plastic bag to be classed as biodegradable, it means it can be broken down over time (usually decades) by bacteria, fungi or microbes and potentially reabsorbed into the surrounding environment.
This doesn’t mean it will not cause chemical pollution. It is also tested for biodegradability under controlled, optimal test conditions (like temperature and humidity) which may not be relevant to the location of disposal. Biodegradable also does not mean compostable and a major output of biodegradability is carbon dioxide, the increase of which is a contributing factor to climate change. So also not good for the dog waste bags, but could be a useful disposal route for other organic materials.
Eurofins offers biodegradability testing of consumer products.
What does compostable mean?
To be certified compostable, a dog waste bag will need to have its chemical composition checked, a biodegradability test completed and a disintegration test, followed by an ecotoxicity test.
For items to be compostable they need specific conditions to be created, either domestically or industrially. So also not good for the dog waste bags, but useful for other organic materials that can be turned into a re-useable and value-adding product. We offer compostability testing.
So what is the best disposal route for dog waste bags?
Answer – Put them in the dog waste bin!
To better understand the biodegradability, disintegration, compostability, ecotoxicity and plant response measurement and metrics of your product please contact us to discuss your needs, or follow the links below for more information. We have over 80 different biodegradability, disintegration, compostability, ecotoxicity, plant response tests on offer.
Eurofins biodegradability-related services
- Biodegradability testing
- Compostability Testing
- Disintegration Testing
- Ecotoxicity Testing
- Biobased content