Are all biodegradable products the same?

July 4, 2018

Beware of greenwashing! While many products claim to be biodegradable, the question of how quickly and easily they degrade is critical to how environmentally friendly they can be considered and how they are treated by law.

There are two widely used designations for biodegradability: Inherently biodegradable and readily biodegradable. Simply saying something is biodegradable still means it can persist in the environment for years, continuing to cause substantial damage, and often require long-term remediation—for example, petroleum based products. Inherent biodegradation is defined as degrading > 20 percent to < 60 percent within 28 days. Readily biodegradable materials, on the other hand, degrade by 60 percent or more within 28 days or less. For those products on the higher range of that scale, like those of RSC Bio Solutions, this means that the material will degrade before major environmental damage has occurred.

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