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The Science of Biodegradation

There is some confusion and disagreement about the term "biodegradable." 

Some unscrupulous manufacturers label products as “biodegradable" or “compostable” when, in fact, they are only partially so. 

When these products are accepted into composting facilities, sewage treatment facilities, or used in agriculture, they can leave behind significant amounts of non-biodegradable fragments (plastic). Further, it is a common misperception that these products will fully biodegrade in a landfill.

Unfortunately, that is not true.

Each year municipal composters lose thousands of dollars from eliminating plastic fragments and litter that contaminate finished compost. Partially degraded plastic fragments can harm fertile farmland or spoil natural surroundings.

Consumers can help avoid these problems by supporting local composting activities and also by shopping carefully and demanding that products advertised as "biodegradable" be scientifically certified to do just that.



BPI is a science-driven organization that supports a shift to the circular economy by promoting the production, use, and appropriate end of lives for materials and products that are designed to fully biodegrade in specific biologically active environments.

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