Reducing the impact of human activity is more important than ever.
In the world of sustainability and growing environmental awareness, it is easy to get lost in the various related terms. There's a lot of confusion surrounding compostable, biodegradable, and degradable.
The ASTM (American Society for Testing Materials) and ISO (International Standards Organization) are being established to understand and assess how different materials break down to dispel the confusion.
What does biodegradable really mean?
Generally, any material made of organic compounds is biodegradable. Over time, carbon-based materials will inevitably break down through oxidation.
Biodegradable materials can be broken down naturally by bacteria, fungi, and algae without human intervention. The leftover components often provide no nutritional benefit to the surrounding soil.
The amount of time it takes for different materials to break down varies. For example, polymers are often referred to as resistant to biodegradation due to how long it takes to deteriorate. For something to be biodegradable, favorable conditions such as temperature, microorganisms, moisture, oxygen, and time must be met.
What does compostable mean?
A compostable material refers to a form of biodegradability that transforms materials into organic waste that enriches the soil, like food scraps, fallen leaves, and grass clippings. The main difference between compostable and biodegradable products is that compostable items provide nutrients back to the earth.
Composting something requires the right level of heat, water, and oxygen to support microorganisms that break down the material. Also, this process must take place within 12 weeks for the material to be compostable.
What is the definition of degradable?
Degradation is the decomposition process of plastics under sunlight, heat, and moisture resulting in the weakening of the plastic's polymer chains. The end product is a multitude of microplastic particles that often become problematic as they end up in the diet of animals and impact the food chain.
Work with the Adhesive Experts
Ultimately, engaging in practices that save resources and energy is good for the planet and your bottom line. There are many ways to reduce the footprint of a business, and improving packing methods can have a big impact.
For businesses looking to improve their sustainability, there are environmentally friendly glues like liquid and gelatin-based glues for packaging that come from natural sources and break down. These glues provide proper adhesions, are cost-effective, and reduce waste. Contact our experts today if you have questions about eco-conscious glue applications or options.