Our planet continues to relentlessly grow in population. A corresponding growth in waste products also occurs. Our society has an etiquette that separates waste products from our immediate living areas.
This waste creates huge environmental problems impacting the entire planet. Recycling is a method to responsibly deal with this problem. The goal of recycling is to separate waste products into two major categories, Biodegradable and Non-biodegradable.
(Definition) Biodegradable materials are composed of waste from living organisms and the actual plant, animal or other organism when its life ends.
Examples of Biodegradable materials, often referred to as “bio-waste”, include the following:
• Human and animal waste
• Plant products, wood, paper, food waste, leaves, grass clippings
• Remains from the death of living creatures
It is very important to note that biodegradable waste can serve to support the future life of other organisms. This waste can be used to provide nourishment and a healthy environment condition for living organisms, which of course includes humans.
Changing biodegradable materials into something useful and nourishing is called bio degradation or decomposition. This process includes the help of other living organisms, such as bacteria, fungi and small insects. Other natural elements such as water, oxygen, moisture and sunlight also required to enable decomposition.
(Definition) Materials having properties that do not breakdown or decay are called Non-biodegradable.
• Electronic devices
• Medical waste
Non-biodegradable materials do not breakdown naturally. But, that doesn’t mean they cannot be reused. The key difference here is that the process requires time, energy and expense. Glass and plastic can be reused to make other products, but the waste must first be separated by type of material and then processed into a usable substance.
Biodegradable materials recycle naturally to a usable substance. However, they can still be a hazard to society. The methane gas byproduct from decomposition is harmful to the environment. There are methods to capture this gas to use as a source of energy.
Non-Biodegradable material waste creates more of a problem for society. Discarded computer parts, batteries,, used motor oil and medical supplies all contain harmful chemicals. Society must devise methods to encourage separation of these materials so they can be treated for reuse or safe disposal.
Recycling is a process to protect society from hazards of our huge volume of waste problems. Knowing more about the types of waste will encourage active participation in solutions.
As we become more technologically advanced, we produce materials that can withstand extreme temperatures, are durable and easy to use. Plastic bags, synthetics, plastic bottles, tin cans, and computer hardware- these are some of the things that make life easy for us.
But what we forget is that these advanced products do not break down naturally. When we dispose them in a garbage pile, the air, moisture, climate, or soil cannot break them down naturally to be dissolved with the surrounding land. They are not biodegradable. However natural waste and products made from nature break down easily when they are disposed as waste.
But as more and more biodegradable materials pile up, there is increased threat to the environment. Visit the sites mentioned below to know about what is biodegradable and what is not and to understand how non-biodegradable materials affect the environment.
This site is one of the best introductions to what is biodegradable and non-biodegradable material and recycling. Especially the three Rs: reuse, reduce and recycle. Study this decomposition chart and you will may be surprised at how long and if common things like glass bottles take to decompose!
For some good definitions of the related terms used in this field, visit this site.
To understand the seriousness of the problem caused by non-biodegradable waste, you can read about what's happening to particular places where plastic and other materials are used for almost everything.
One of the most common household waste is polythene- mostly used as polythese bags for shopping and carrying light things. Since they are cheap, they are used by almost everyone- from the local vegetable seller to the supermarket bread shelf.
The hazard that polythene causes to the environment is very serious. This site is a research study undertaken by students about waste management in Uganda. But it has some interest information on what polythene waste does to the environment and what measures we can take to help stop this kind of pollution.
On the other hand, biodegradable waste also has some effect on the environment. To understand how biodegradable waste is a factor in greenhouse effect visit the site. The problems it describes are common to all regions where there is the greenhouse effect.
Keeping in mind the potential hazard of biodegradable waste, it is important for you to know in what way you can help to make sure that less non-biodegradable material is left on the planet. Become an environment friendly consumer by following the everyday tips at on how we can contribute to less non-biodegradable materials.