Because ‘recyclable’ and ‘biodegradable’ have both become buzzwords in our society in recent years, they often get clumped together. This can actually be quite damming as they both have very different meanings and usages for the environment.
Biodegradable refers to the ability of a product to be broken down into sugars or gases by the environment. Though the term doesn’t provide a specific timeline, many believe that something is biodegradable if it can break down in about one lifetime or less. Some biodegradable products include food, wood, certain types of plastics, paper, etc.. Certain biodegradable products can be recycled in certain circumstances (some wood can be recycles, etc.), but often times, they cannot be repurposed (food waste cannot be used again, etc.).
Recycling refers to the process of throwing out products in an organized fashion that allowed the materials to be repurposed into something else. Therefore, if something is ‘recyclable’, it just means that it has the potential to be repurposed into something else. Plastic, glass, and paper are some of the most common recyclable materials. Most recyclable materials are not biodegradable, which is why they are recycled. Because they cannot be broken down by the environment, the only way to reduce the waste caused by them is to find another purpose for them.
Now that you know what the differences are, you can take on your recycling and biodegrading to the next level!