Does Biodegradable Waste Cause Pollution?

  • By: greenorb
  • Date: August 2, 2021
  • Time to read: 6 min.

We generate and discard plenty of wastes like fruits and vegetable remains, tea leaves, and more. Bacteria and other microorganisms often decompose these substances. 

Hence, the term biodegradable.

So, does biodegradable waste cause pollution? The answer is NO. Biodegradable waste can easily break down into simpler organic matter by microorganisms. The process is natural and clean. Hence there may be little or no pollution.

Eager to know more? Here’s our complete guide:

What is Biodegradable Waste?

Biodegradable waste refers to waste that typically originates from animal or plant sources. 

It can undergo decomposition by the action of microorganisms like fungi and bacteria. 

Or abiotic factors such as oxygen, UV light, temperature, among others.

Besides, the process is entirely natural. It involves the breaking down of large complex substances into simpler compounds and organic matters. 

This may take either a long or a short time.

However, the biodegradable wastes that take longer to decompose may cause a minimal effect on the environment.

The resulting materials can help form fertile soils. They may also serve as manure for agricultural practice. 

As a result, they don’t cause any pollution to the environment

Examples of Biodegradable Waste

Some examples of biodegradable waste include fruit and vegetable peels, tea leaves, paper products like papers and cups.

They may also include:

  • food materials
  • kitchen wastes
  • agriculture remnants
  • cow dung
  • plant waste
  • animal bones
  • garbage
  • leather wool
  • wood
  • faecal matter and urine.

Properties of Biodegradable Pollutants

  • Biodegradable waste doesn’t cause pollution. But, it may release carbon dioxide and water vapour.
  • It’s also safe for plants since it doesn’t contain heavy metals or other harmful compounds.
  • The process of biodegradation helps remove harmful substances from the environment.
  • It also contributes to improving soil quality and creating fertile soils.
  • These pollutants may take a short or long time to decompose. Additionally, their rate and speed of decomposition may vary greatly.

Harmful Effects of Biodegradable Wastes to Environment

Biodegradable waste does not cause any pollution on its own. 

However, its tendency to decompose can be a contributing factor to pollution.

The following scenarios are the effects of biodegradable wastes on the environment:

Pollution through Soil Contamination

Soil is a rich source of nutrients. It’s also home to an enormous number of living organisms. 

If biodegradable pollutants contaminate soil, they can disrupt the natural balance in these ecosystems. 

Plus, it may affect different types of plants and animals.

Biodegradable pollutants aid decomposition by microorganisms. 

The process produces fertile soil and safe manure for plants.

However, if the substances are disposed of just anywhere, they may take time to decompose there. 

The result? A dangerous space with an unpleasant odour that attracts pests and vermin. 

They also make the soil infertile, affecting plant growth.

By refining a compost heap, you can speed up the process of decomposition. 

This will help transform biodegradable materials into plant fertilizers that are easy to manage.

Surface and Groundwater Contamination

Surface and underground water bodies such as rivers, lakes, and aquifers are a handy component of the environment. 

They are for drinking water, irrigation, industrial use, or recreation. 

If biodegradable pollutants contaminate these sources of water supply, the result can be devastating to our health.

Biodegradable pollutants that find their way into water sources may take a long to break down. 

If this happens, it may pollute the water and soil. Such pollution can be harmful to aquatic life forms.

What’s the best way to manage biodegradable wastes? Well, you can compost them in a safe space with enough air, moisture, and heat. 

That’s how you get fertile soil that is good for both plants and humans.

If you want to dispose of such waste, you may consider opting for a recycling system. 

This helps reduce the volume of pollutants entering our environment.

The Cause Eutrophication

Eutrophication happens when a water body has plenty of nutrients. 

These can come from many sources, including decaying plants and animals.

The nutrients may cause an overgrowth of algae in lakes and rivers or other waterways. Eventually, this may create an imbalance in the aquatic ecosystem that is harmful to fish and other organisms.

To control this process, it is vital to improving the efficiency of waste management. 

Most importantly, this means recycling more and reducing our use of disposable materials.

Other Ways of Managing Biodegradable Waste

Organizations and governments around the world have set up methods to deal with biodegradable waste efficiently. 

Some of these mechanisms are as follows:


Composting is a natural process of decomposition. 

It involves mixing organic waste with water, air, and heat to form fertilizer for plants. 

These facilities produce compost in a safe environment. 

This helps reduce water pollution and lessen the chance of plant diseases.

Compositing Centers

These facilities process organic waste into compost for farm use and also for recycling by industries.

Composting Microbes

Microorganisms break down biodegradable materials into simpler compounds through composting. 

The process happens naturally in our environment if waste stays still for a long period.

Composting happens faster in ideal conditions. These microbes hasten the breakdown of organic waste. 

They also help turn it into nutrient-rich fertilizer for plants.

The answer lies in composting microorganisms or microbes. You can add them to soil and other materials for faster biodegradation.

These microorganisms are already present in nature. 

They can multiply under a suitable environment to produce more of them for faster composting.

Although these microbes need air, water, and heat for their growth, the process is still cheaper than conventional composting methods.

The use of these unique microorganisms also has minimal effect on plants and animals. 

These microbes are beneficial for plants. And they don’t cause diseases in animals and humans.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Biodegradable Wastes

Advantages of Biodegradable Wastes

  • Many of these products will turn into organic matter after a few weeks in landfills. This contributes to the growth of plants and trees in forests.
  • If biodegradable pollutants remain in landfills for years, they’ll turn into the soil after microorganisms break them down.
  • Industries can use biodegradable wastes to produce goods that require natural materials. These include food producers, paper companies, and chemical manufacturers.
  • Proper disposal of these wastes results in the formation of natural soil fertilizers instead of polluting water sources. So, there’s little or no need to use artificial fertilizers for growing plants and vegetables.
  • The use of biodegradable materials also has minimal effect on the environment. It does not cause air pollution as conventional products do when they burn in incinerators.

Disadvantages of Biodegradable Wastes

  • Biodegradable wastes such as organic food waste take a long time to decompose naturally. They cannot break down if they do not have enough oxygen or water. Furthermore, these wastes may attract pests and cause odors. That’s mostly when you expose them to heat, moisture, and other environmental factors.
  • Biodegradable waste management also requires careful planning and coordination by all sectors. They include; manufacturers, business owners, local government units, and homeowners. Biodegradable waste management will not be successful if these groups do not work together.
  • Composting biodegradable wastes can be daunting. That’s because the process requires the separation of biodegradable wastes from other solid wastes such as plastic and glass products.


The use of biodegradable products is good for the environment. 

That’s because they cause little or no pollution. 

If you want a healthier environment for your family, practice proper ways of handling organic wastes. 

Not just paper and plastic, but also food and agricultural waste.

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