Why is it important to use more biodegradable and compostable products? Materials are often disposed of prematurely, resulting in air, water, and soil pollution and provoking an inefficient use of natural resources. The first chapter of our guide to making compostable jeans focuses on compostability and compostable materials.
What are recycling, upcycling, biodegradability, and compostability?
The issue of premature disposing can be mitigated thanks to recycling, upcycling, and developing biodegradable and compostable items.
The life of many products can be extended through recycling, but often this reduces their quality. There are then some other ways to reduce the environmental impact goods have on the planet:
- upcycling means adding value to used materials and products by reworking them into items of equal or increased quality
- biodegradability and compostability allow materials and products to return to nature without creating waste and pollution
What is the difference between biodegradable and compostable?
Compostable substances and materials are the new frontiers of biodegradable ones.
A biodegradable substance or material can degrade into CO2, water, inorganic compounds, and biomass thanks to natural microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and algae. Biodegradability is a prerequisite for compostability.
A compostable substance or material does not leave any visible, distinguishable, or toxic residues. When a compostable substance or material biodegrades, it usually turns into hummus, a nutrient-rich organic matter that can be used as soil fertilizer, or, in anaerobic environments, methane gas, which can produce energy.
What are petroleum-based plastics and bioplastics?
Recently, bioplastics have been developed as an alternative to most traditional petroleum-based plastics.
Petroleum-based plastics, often used in the textile and fashion industry for fibers, printing and embellishment materials, components, and packaging, do not biodegrade. At the end of their life, they try (and fail) to biodegrade, releasing harmful gases into the atmosphere, and photodegrade, meaning that they are broken down by light exposure into smaller pieces that can quickly enter the food chain.
Bioplastics are made from plant-based polymers. Many of them have been developed to biodegrade without releasing any harmful gases. To guarantee that bio-based plastics have a reduced environmental and social impact, the crops used to produce them have not to be genetically modified or grown using toxic chemicals and pesticides.