What makes a product biodegradable?
In the most basic sense, biodegradability is the ability for a product to be consumed by microorganisms. Biodegradability for the purposes of making claims (as an inherent property of the material) requires a bit more detail.
Currently, unless the product is 100% naturally derived and not materially changed in the manufacturing process, testing must be performed to enable a supplier to make legitimate claims on a products biodegradability.
What is the difference between Aerobic and Anaerobic Biodegradation?
From a microbial perspective, there are two methods for biodegradation:
- Aerobic in which organisms use oxygen as part of the respiration for consumption of nutrients.
- Anaerobic in which organisms use other elements such as sulfur, in the process of respiration and consumption of nutrients.
In the real world, there is typically a continuum of these two processes, but in waste treatment facilities, the facility is managed is such a way that one or the other process is the predominant form of degradation. For most commercial markets, aerobic biodegradation is preferred.