BIODEGRADABLE - part 2 of 3 // The process of biodegradation depends on conditions such as location, temperature, humidity, and presence of microorganisms. It also depends on the material itself, and the specific environment, such as an industrial compost plant, home compost, or in nature. For example, plastics that are biodegradable in an industrial composting plant (the most aggressive atmosphere regime) are not usually biodegradable in water, soil, or even in your home compost bin. Consequently, the process of biodegradation and its outcome can vary considerably.
As each environment has different conditions, the speed of the biodegradation process may vary from one site to another, but it usually takes a really long time - perhaps decades or even centuries in some environments, and is completely dependent on the temperature and the amount of moisture present. As such, biodegradable materials should always be sent to an industrial composting facility as they need very specific conditions to break down. For example, most councils (in the UK) have industrial composting systems for food waste that are designed to allow the necessary micro-organisms needed to break down biodegradable materials, to thrive. Although biodegradable materials would eventually break down in a home compost, it would take a really long time. It is better to send them to industrial compost facilities, where biodegradable materials will break down in approximately 12 weeks.
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