Sunday, November 28, 2021

Phillip Elden: Is There A Difference Between Compostable And Biodegradable?

Phillip Elden

In America, we tend to generate about five pounds of trash per person each day. Unfortunately, much of this winds up in landfills. According to Phillip Elden, this is terrible for the environment and the animals that inhabit it. 
 
As we continue to learn more and more about how waste affects the environment, people have started to pay more attention to biodegradable and compostable materials. But, what’s the difference? 
 
According to Phillip Elden, a biodegradable material, such as potato peels or paper, will break down over time naturally. Biodegradable materials are eaten by fungi and bacteria. This does not mean that all biodegradable materials are good for the earth. Styrofoam is one example. While Styrofoam is fully biodegradable, it can take 500 years or more to be completely broken down. Aluminum cans take up to 100 years. 

Compostable materials are those that can biodegrade, but only under human-controlled circumstances. Think of it this way: biodegrade is a natural process while composting requires human intervention. Compostable materials are broken down the same way, but the humans who handle it control exactly how much water, oxygen, and microorganisms are introduced into their environments. 
 
Phillip Elden is often asked which is better between the two. The answer is that it depends. He explains that both compostable and biodegradable materials can be better for the environment. However, many packages are misleading. For example, some companies have begun selling bio plastics, which are plastics made out of plant-derived raw materials. These may be fully biodegradable, but if they are designed to be structurally the same as traditional plastics, they will last in the environment just as long. 
 
For those wishing to be conscientious about the materials they put into their trash cans, Phillip Elden has this advice: read the label. Often, it’s better to choose reusable items, such as plates, napkins, and water bottles, than it is to buy disposable versions, even if they are labeled biodegradable or compostable.