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( Article Type: Explanation )

Biodegradable means that a substance can be broken down by living organisms such as microbes and bacteria and absorbed into the environment without leaving toxic or long-lived residual substances. Waste products that are biodegradable cause less harm in the environment because, after they have biodegraded, their constituent parts are used by other organisms and processes in nature.

For example, when a creature dies, it decomposes into the soil and the nutrients that result provides food and sustenance for other organisms. Another key aspect to biodegradability is the question of recognising the carrying capacity of an ecosystem. It is necessary to ensure that biodegradable products are not added to the environment in such large quantities that they overwhelm the ability of the system to absorb the materials.

There is currently a drive to try to link factories where the waste product of one business can provide the feedstock of another. For example, a chemical plant that produces carbon dioxide as a by-product could be located close to a company that produced carbonated soft drinks. Humankind produces waste products that can, in some cases, remain unchanged in the environment for many decades. Substances that are not biodegradable should be recycled or reused to promote sustainability.

Associated Topics:

Bacteria , Bio-remediation , Composting