What are examples of inorganic biodegradable substances

Bioplastic: bio-based or biodegradable

Bioplastics are booming and are a sustainable alternative to conventional plastics made from petroleum. Food packaging, plastic bags and disposable tableware: more and more products are made from bioplastics. However, there are two different types of plastic, both of which are used under the heading of bioplastics, namely bio-based plastics and biodegradable plastics. Sounds almost the same, but it's not.

Biodegradable or biodegradable

Bio-based plastics are plastics that are made from plant biomass. Polylactic acid, cellophane, and starch-based plastics are commonly used bio-based plastics. The term bio-based says something about the origin of the material from which the plastics are made, but that does not necessarily mean that the plastics are also biodegradable. Bio-based plastic has many advantages. For example, the production of bio-based plastics reduces greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional plastics, reduces the demand for fossil raw materials and is easily recyclable.

The second variant, the biodegradable plastic, consists of material that is completely degraded in an industrial composting plant within seven weeks. In such a system, temperatures of up to 65 degrees are used, so that bacteria break down the material into natural raw materials in a relatively short time. In nature, however, this degradation process takes much longer and will soon pass over a number of years. Biodegradable plastics should therefore be returned as organic waste and must not be disposed of as natural waste.


There are persistent misconceptions about bio-based and biodegradable plastics and consumers are still very unsure. A big misunderstanding is the processing and recycling of both plastics. Bio-based plastics consist of the same polymers as traditional fossil plastics and can therefore run smoothly in the current sorting and mechanical recycling process. This is in contrast to biodegradable plastics, which when mixed with other plastics have a negative impact on the quality of the recycled plastic.

Biodegradable plastics are characterized by the seedling logo or the OK Kompost logo. However, these logos cause a lot of confusion. The logos indicate that the plastics meet the European standard, according to which the material must be degraded by at least 95 percent in an industrial composting plant within 12 weeks at the latest. However, the logo often creates the expectation that the plastic is actually compostable, while these substances can take several years to break down in nature. The problem that animals mistake the plastic for food is therefore not taken away with the biodegradable plastic, so a bird can still suffocate in a plastic bag. It is therefore important that the consumer is well informed about the differences between the two types of plastic and how to deal with the plastic waste.

Source: groenkennisnet.nl, wur.nl, verenigingafvalbedrijven.nl