Environmental Chemistry

Biodegradable Waste & Non-Biodegradable Waste | Definition, Differences


There are different types of waste that we produce on an annual basis. It comes in many forms; however, we can mainly divide them into two categories. One is biodegradable waste and the other is a non-biodegradable waste.

It is very clear that these two wastes are very different from each other. We must know that everything we use in our everyday life is either biodegradable or non-biodegradable. One is profitable to the environment while the other is not.

By having a look at the definition of both these wastes one can easily know the huge differences that lie between them.

biodegradable waste

Definition of Biodegradable Waste

Biodegradable materials are those, which degrade or break down in a natural manner. In other words, their decomposition happens with the help of natural agents like sunlight, microorganisms, water, ozone and more which turns it into organic manure.

Thus, these substances are non-toxic to the environment comprising of only natural materials. For instance, fruits, vegetables, flowers, plants, animals, water, paper and more are examples of biodegradable waste.

They transform into simpler units and then we use them as fertilizers, manure, compost, biogas and more. Therefore, this makes them eco-friendly.

Definition of Non-biodegradable Waste

Non-biodegradable substances are materials which do not degrade easily. As they are synthesized and do not occur naturally, degradation is impossible with these products. Therefore, when they stay in the ecosystem for a long period and do not decompose, they harm our environment.

For instance, plastics, chemicals, rubber, paints, batteries, metals and all fall in this category. The drawback is that in place of returning to the environment, they transform into solid waste which poses a great threat to the environment and health. This does not make it eco-friendly and we must avoid using it at all costs.

Differences between Biodegradable and Non-biodegradable Waste

It is clear by the definition that, there are major differences between biodegradable waste and non-biodegradable waste. Firstly, the substances which are biodegradable are considered to be very beneficial as they decompose easily.

This decomposition is made possible by air, sunlight, water, soil, microorganisms and all. On the other hand, non-biodegradable materials do not decay in the ecosystem naturally and are quite damaging. Furthermore, the rate at which these biodegradable materials decompose is slow which takes up to a few days or sometimes even weeks.

Whereas, the non-biodegradable material either does not decompose or does so very slowly, taking up to hundreds and thousands of years. Most of them do maintain their original form and can be found as it is even after many years.

Moreover, we can use biodegradable materials after degrading for producing fertilizers, biogas, compost, manure and more. This is very profitable for the environment. However, the degradation rate is slow so it does not do any good. Plus, even if we recycle it, it is quite expensive and does not benefit the environment.

In conclusion, a lot of measures are being taken up to encourage the use of biodegradable substances and avoid non-biodegradable materials. The best way to save the environment from getting more damaged is to recycle and reuse the non-biodegradable substances.

As they do not decompose or dissolve, it is better to recycle it for reducing this kind of waste. Other than that, try to go green by only using biodegradable materials.

Solved Question for You

Question– Which of the following substances comes in the category of non-biodegradable waste?

A. Plants
B. Plastic
C. Fruits
D. Flowers

Answer– The correct answer is option B. Plastic is a non-biodegradable substance which does not decompose. It is one of the most harmful substances which stays around for more than a thousand years.

Share with friends

Customize your course in 30 seconds

Which class are you in?
Get ready for all-new Live Classes!
Now learn Live with India's best teachers. Join courses with the best schedule and enjoy fun and interactive classes.
Ashhar Firdausi
IIT Roorkee
Dr. Nazma Shaik
Gaurav Tiwari
Get Started

Leave a Reply

1 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
1 Comment authors
Joe Sizer Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Joe Sizer


Customize your course in 30 seconds

Which class are you in?
No thanks.