Are apples biodegradable? (9 examples)

In this article, the biodegradability of apples will be discussed. Other covered topics will be: 

  • Why is apple food waste an issue?
  • What is food waste?
  • What is the difference between food waste and food loss?
  • How to tackle food waste?
  • What is biodegradability?
  • How can waste be segregated based on biodegradability?
  • Are apples biodegradable?
  • FAQs

Are apples biodegradable?

Yes, apples are biodegradable. They may degrade in about a week which can be extended by the use of a refrigerator. 

The story of apple waste generation is a sad one because it is estimated that more than 3.7 trillion apples are wasted globally. As per food waste, more than one-third of produced food is wasted which is about 1.3 billion tons.

Burgeoning apple demands may be met with the use of harmful chemicals, fertilisers, and land misuse anomalies. All these factors create many problems for the planet and the people.

Why is apple food waste an issue?

Apple food waste has become a global issue because food waste, in general, has a lot of detrimental impacts on the environment as well as the people that are a part of the environment. 

Apple waste production simply means that there is a greater strain on the production and harvesting process of apples. This strain has to be met in unsustainable ways which may include land misuse and exploitation of various chemicals.

Apples have become a necessity in every household. You will find apples in every fruit basket because they can be regarded as a staple of fruits. Every salad is incomplete without apples. You will find a whole range of commercial products that are made from apples. 

However, it is not all that glittery when it comes to apples. Apples are known to be very beneficial to human health. You may remember that proverb that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. 

Some might even argue that the applications of apples are not just limited to the food industry. For example, it was an apple that led to the insight into what gravity is. However, what is the downside of it?

The downside of apple use is obviously its produced waste which in terms translates that apples have been misused. 

As per studies, it is claimed that yearly, more than half of the produced fruits are wasted. This means 3.7 trillion apples are not used the way they should have been. Take it another way, this also means that 3.7 trillion more apples are demanded baselessly which puts strain on the production processes. 

When an apple is degraded, it releases ethylene gas which is a greenhouse gas. GHG causes global warming which is a very important environmental issue.

The issue of food waste is so alarming that it is even claimed that if food waste were a country, then it would be the third biggest producer of greenhouse gases after the US and China. 

What is food waste?

Food waste may be referred to as all the food that is not consumed, rather it is disposed of. 

The inapt disposal of food which was meant to be eaten means that strain is put on the food production process. The process of making food is quite a heft process, not just on the pocket but also on the environment. 

The production of food is mostly accompanied by the use of agrochemicals to meet the burgeoning demands of food. If food is wasted, it means that this demand is further aggravated. Which means greater use of agrochemicals. 

The use of agrochemicals is very grey for the people as well as the planet. Other than causing medical complications like mutations or reproductive anomalies, agrochemicals may leach into the soil disrupting the natural harmony of organisms causing loss of life and a definite loss of substantiality. 

The production of food is not just about the use of agrochemicals. The production and transportation of food are done at the expense of non-renewable resources. Non-renewable resources, simply put, imply that greater amounts of carbon dioxide and other GHG are added to the environment. 

This addition causes countless problems from global warming to unprecedented weather patterns. It is argued that the engine of our earth is linkage. When one aspect is corrupted, this disruption reciprocates to other aspects as well. 

Food waste simply means that more non-renewable resources are put to use, be it the production process or transportation commuting. Greater food waste simply implies that greater amounts of GHG are infiltrated into the environment.   

That is why, it is claimed that if food waste were a country, it would be the third biggest contributor to GHGs. 

The impacts of food waste not just affect people and the planet; but also the economy. It is assumed that more than 900 billion dollars are wasted as a result of food waste. 

What is the difference between food waste and food loss?

It is also important to note the difference between food waste and food loss. The two terms may appear the same but there is a fundamental difference which needs to be covered. 

Food waste refers to the misuse of food that is fit for human consumption. Do you remember the last time you did not finish your plate? What you did then was food waste. 

Food loss refers to the loss or waste of food before it reaches the consumer. For example, if food is wasted by unsustainable agricultural practices, then it means that there is food loss. Other reasons for food loss may be climate anomalies, insect attacks and misuse of agrochemicals. 

How to tackle food loss and food waste? 

It has been asserted that the issue of food loss and food waste is a major issue and needs to be addressed. If that does not happen, there can be greater problems as well. 

It is estimated that global food waste production stands at a staggering 1.3 billion tons. The figure speaks for itself and therefore, it is important to know how this figure can be reduced.

As per studies, the following steps can be taken to ensure that there is less food waste: 

  • Reduction of food loss by endeavours such as better storage, transportation, and correct use of agrochemicals
  • Better food recovery so that wasted food may be distributed among the poor and needy people 
  • Recycling of food waste so that it may be used as compost, biomass and natural fertilisers 
  • Better research to increase the shelf life of foods (for example, as per research, the browning of apples was avoided by gene change. Which resulted in less apple waste.)

What is biodegradability?

In order to understand whether food waste (or apple waste in general) is biodegradable or not, it is essential to know what biodegradability is. 

Biodegradability is the process through which waste is broken down by the action of microbes so that it can become a part of nature again. The microbes that are responsible for this breakdown may be bacteria, fungi, algae, protozoa, yeast, and decomposers. Below are some examples of such organisms: 

  • Pseudomonas fluorescens
  • Bacillus vallismortis bt-dsce01
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae CH001
  • Aspergillus oryzae strain A5
  • Sphingobacterium sp
  • Bacillus sp.
  • Xanthomonas sp.

Microbes are, therefore, involved in the reduction of waste. It is added in the basic code of mother nature to avoid waste formation and accumulation because mother nature knows that if waste is generated and accumulated, there will be great problems to deal with. 

That is why biodegradability is so protected and highly regarded. It is very essential because it ensures that the waste produced gets back to the system in a cyclical fashion and does not cause any anomalies. 

However, man is notoriously known to corrupt the basic codes of nature. For example, the environmental problems that man brought outweigh all the anomalies that have happened until now, however, man’s arrival on this planet as a species is very short. 

 It is regarded that most of the man-made materials which are synthesised in the lab can not degrade by the action of microbes. This is because microbes are unable to break down the inner structures of complex waste. 

Result? The waste created by man may remain in the environment for many hundred years. If waste remains this long, environmental and human problems are sure to come. 

Non-biodegradable waste is known to cause a lot of harm to nature and man, other than being non-biodegradable. There is an endless list of these effects but some prominent ones can be cited as examples. 

  • Greenhouse effect
  • Global warming
  • Deforestation
  • Soil leaching
  • Pollution
  • Soil erosion 
  • Destruction of habitats
  • Disruption of food chains
  • Species endangerment 
  • Loss of life 
  • Medical complications
  • Harm to the economy
  • Unforeseen and unprecedented climatic anomalies 
  • Pest & insect attacks 

How can waste be segregated based on biodegradability? (9 examples of biodegradable waste)

Biodegradable waste is that waste can be degraded by the action of microbes. This type of waste may degrade readily or may also take some months. 

As per some studies, biodegradable waste (like bio-plastics) may even take some years to degrade. Examples of biodegradable waste include: 

  • Food waste
  • Plant waste
  • Animal waste
  • Manure
  • Sewage 
  • Crop waste
  • Waste from slaughterhouse 
  • Natural fibres
  • Natural fabrics 
  • Semi-synthetic material obtained from plant or animal sources (like rayon fabric) 
  • Drywall mud 

Non-biodegradable waste, on the other hand, can not be degraded by the action of microbes. It is mainly because microbes are unable to break the structures of this type of waste. 

It is generally perceived that materials that are synthesised in the lab from petroleum or fossil fuels are not biodegradable. The tragedy is that with increased commercialisation and consumerism, more such waste is generated which leaves us with unprecedented and grave issues. 

Synthetic polymers are regarded as the most common non-biodegradable waste. Other examples may include: 

  • Electronic waste
  • Plastics 
  • Polyvinyl Chloride
  • Nuclear waste
  • Hazardous waste
  • Chemical waste
  • Hospital waste 
  • Synthetic resins
  • Synthetic fibres
  • Dyneema 
  • PHA 
  • EVA

Are apples biodegradable?

It has been assessed that for a product to be biodegradable, it must be made from natural sources rather than non-natural sources. 

It is also discussed that apples are found in nature, and there is no element of artificiality attached to them. Therefore, it can be summed up that apples are biodegradable. 

Apples may degrade in about a week’s time. However, you can prolong this by storing apples in a bag and putting the bag in a fridge. This will lead to less waste generation.

The story of apple waste generation is a sad one because it is estimated that more than 3.7 trillion apples are wasted globally. As per food waste, more than one-third of produced food is wasted which is about 1.3 billion tons. 

These staggering figures clearly tell the moral of the story. It is incumbent that the issue of apple waste is managed because, although apples are biodegradable, greater waste production of apples means that higher stakes are put at risk. 

Burgeoning apple demands may be met with the use of harmful chemicals, fertilisers, and land misuse anomalies. All these have detrimental impacts on the environment and the people. 

Conclusion

Apples are found in nature as fruits. They are biodegradable and may degrade in about a week’s time. However, you can prolong this by storing apples in a bag and putting the bag in a fridge. This will lead to less waste generation.

The story of apple waste generation is a sad one because it is estimated that more than 3.7 trillion apples are wasted globally. As per food waste, more than one-third of produced food is wasted which is about 1.3 billion tons.

Burgeoning apple demands may be met with the use of harmful chemicals, fertilisers, and land misuse anomalies. All these factors create many problems for the planet and the people. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Are apples biodegradable?

How long do apples take to degrade?

Apples may degrade in 5 days. This time can be increased by storing them in the fridge.

How is apple degradation a problem?

Apple degradation is problematic because it releases the greenhouse gas ethylene which causes global warming and other environmental complications. 

References

  • Girotto, F., Alibardi, L., & Cossu, R. (2015). Food waste generation and industrial uses: A review. Waste management, 45, 32-41.
  • Schanes, K., Dobernig, K., & Gözet, B. (2018). Food waste matters-A systematic review of household food waste practices and their policy implications. Journal of cleaner production, 182, 978-991.
  • Tokiwa, Y., Calabia, B. P., Ugwu, C. U., & Aiba, S. (2009). Biodegradability of plastics. International journal of molecular sciences, 10(9), 3722-3742.
  • Souza, V. G. L., & Fernando, A. L. (2016). Nanoparticles in food packaging: Biodegradability and potential migration to food—A review. Food Packaging and Shelf Life, 8, 63-70.

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