What Does Biodegradable Mean?

Recently several stores, such as Target, have made their plastic gift cards out of biodegradable plastic (despite them costing 3x as much as regular plastic), and Innocent Drinks have tested a 100% biodegradable bottle. But what does biodegradable actually mean?

Innocent Eco Bottle

For something to be biodegradable it has to be a organic substance that can be broken down by microorganisms, a great example being a leaf. In the case of biodegradable plastic, which is usually made from petrochemical compounds, they often use a substance called Mirel which is a corn-based product. They describe biodegradable as “the degradation of material from naturally occurring microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi or algae over a period of time. Source: ASTM“.

For more information, check out the excellent Worldwise biodegradable article.

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