Can You Recycle Biodegradable Waste?

  • By: greenorb
  • Date: September 21, 2021
  • Time to read: 4 min.

Conversations about green living and environmentally friendly practices have been top of mind for consumers looking to reduce their footprint. 

Amidst forest fires and flooding, the average person may find themselves researching recycling, composting, and waste practices to see how their actions can help the planet.

Here, we’ll make a complicated question simple: can biodegradable waste be recycled? We’ll run through all the answers you need, including biodegradable waste examples and how to dispose of biodegradable waste. 

Let’s get started!

What is biodegradable waste?

Biodegradable waste is “any organic matter in waste which can be broken down into carbon dioxide, water, methane or simple organic molecules by micro-organisms and other living things acting in composting, aerobic digestion, anaerobic digestion or similar processes” according to Science Direct. 

What are biodegradable waste examples?

Biodegradable waste examples include green waste, food waste, manure, vegetable and fruit peels, leaves, landscape waste, cardboard, and other materials that can break down in the environment. 

These items are technically compostable as well, but keep in mind “compostable” and “biodegradable” are not the same thing. 

For example, plastic is not compostable but can technically be biodegradable. However, it still takes a very long time to break down. 

Is there a difference between biodegradable and compostable waste?

Biodegradable waste is slightly different than compostable waste. 

Biodegradable waste will break down in a landfill, even over time. Compostable waste typically needs a specific type of environment to break down. 

Compostable materials often create a thriving environment for bacteria and soil, adding to their environments when they break down. 

Biodegradable waste just means that it can eventually disappear into the land over time, but typically does not add any benefit to its environment. 

Essentially, all compostable materials are biodegradable, but not all biodegradable materials are compostable.

Can biodegradable waste be recycled?

No! Similar to compostable products, biodegradable waste can not be recycled. 

It tends to muck up the recycling process, physically halting the efficiency and contaminating other recyclable items. 

This can also cause the recycled products to be low quality. Recycling biodegradable waste is not the best idea if you are trying to be more conscious of your impact.

Can non-biodegradable waste be recycled?

Absolutely! Non-biodegradable waste can be recycled. 

Make sure you adhere to your local guidelines for metal, plastic, and glass recycling. 

Non-biodegradable waste is often one of the largest factors of pollution on earth, so it’s important to do the best you can to dispose of it safely.

How should I dispose of biodegradable waste?

Composting is one of the best ways to dispose of biodegradable waste. 

Composting is an excellent way to recycle organic waste and encourage the earth’s natural recycling process.

How to dispose of biodegradable plastics?

So, what should you do with biodegradable plastics? You can often dispose of them in the trash. It’s important to try to limit your plastic usage. Even though the plastic may break down, it can still contaminate landfills for a long time.

Are biodegradable plastics environmentally friendly?

Somewhat. Most experts would argue that biodegradable plastics are not helpful to the environment, since they can take years to break down. 

However, they do eventually disappear into the environment, creating less waste overall. 

So, while biodegradable plastic is better than non-biodegradable, it is not the best solution for environmental health.

How to dispose of biodegradable packing? 

You can tell if your product is biodegradable by a little triangle of arrows within a box. 

Biodegradable packing won’t benefit the soil like compostable packing, but it will break down. You can dispose of biodegradable packages by throwing them in your garbage.

What is the easiest way to dispose of biodegradable waste at home?

If your town has a biodegradable waste bin, great! If not, the simplest way to dispose of biodegradable waste at home is to start a compost pile. 

As we mentioned, compost gives nutrients back to the soil. 

Combining your compost with biodegradable waste is the perfect way to reduce your waste and benefit the soil, all from your own backyard.

What is the best way to dispose of biodegradable waste safely?

You can throw biodegradable waste in the trash safely. 

However, if you’d rather dispose of it in a different way, there are several options for disposing of organic waste safely:

  • Composting in your yard
  • Vermicomposting in your yard
  • See if your city has a city-composting plan
  • Donate your organic materials to local gardens or farms

Some cities will even send you a compost starter kit so you can make your very own compost pile in your backyard! 

In Summation:

  • You should not recycle biodegradable waste, as it can halt the recycling process.
  • Biodegradable waste will simply break down over time, while compostable waste breaks down to add nutrients to the soil.
  • Biodegradable does not have a timeline attached to it, meaning a material could technically break down in the environment but might take years.
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