How can something be biodegradeable without being bio-based?


Mainly thinking on plastics & plastic alternatives – would it be somehow possible to transform something that can no longer be recycled into something that breaks down without being harmful?

In: 5

For something to be biodegradable, it means that one or more organisms need to be able to extract energy from it, usually this is done by breaking the compound down. It doesn’t matter where the biodegradable material came from, whether humans made it in a lab or whether it was made by another living organism. All that matters is whether there’s another organism that has the ability to break this down. For example, most of the coal deposits in the world come from the very first appearance of trees millions and millions of years ago. The very first trees were possible because plants develop the ability to produce their own type of plastic, something called lignin. Lignin is tough and sturdy and allows trees to grow tall and stay strong. Because this was a brand new molecule never seen before on the face of the planet, there were millions of years during which nothing on Earth was able to break down lignan. When trees died, they simply fell over and piled on top of each other producing large deposits of dead trees that were eventually buried deep in the Earth. Millions of years later, these turned to what we now know as coal

wherever there is an abundant resource, something usually eventually evolves to use it. we are seeing it now with plastic-eating bacteria. something that was obviously impossible to exist before the invention of plastic.

also, plastic is derivative of oil. which is organic-based.

I was once told in a hazmat class “everything is natural but we just concentrate it too much”