Are duplex boards biodegradable? (11 characteristics of duplex boards) 

In this article, it shall be explored whether duplex boards are biodegradable or not. Some related aspects shall also be shed light upon including: 

  • What are duplex boards?
  • What are biodegradable products?
  • Why is the biodegradability of duplex boards important?
  • Are duplex boards eco-friendly?
  • What are the uses of duplex boards?
  • Can duplex boards be used as compost?
  • FAQs

Are duplex boards biodegradable?

Yes, duplex boards are biodegradable because they are made from natural materials including pulp or recycled paper. 

Duplex boards are, therefore, environmentally friendly provided that they are manufactured, used and disposed of in sustainable ways. 

Duplex boards are also recyclable and can be made into compost that can be used as a natural fertiliser, reducing the use of chemical fertilisers that have many negative impacts on the environment and human health. 

What are duplex boards? (11 characteristics of duplex boards) 

Duplex board is made from paperboard or cardboard. It is made from two layers and that is where it gets its name from (duplex). Duplex board is usually dark grey in colour. 

You might have seen the cartons in which milk bottles are supplied. Those cartons are made from duplex boards. 

With the increasing trend toward commercial products, the consumer market is preferring such substances which have multiple uses while also being cost-efficient. Duplex boards have a good utilitarian value that gives them an edge over other packaging materials. 

Some of the key features/characteristics of duplex boards include: 

  • Strong material
  • Durable
  • Multi-function use
  • Water-resistant 
  • Resistance to folding 
  • Anti-curl properties
  • Moisture resistant 
  • Rigidness
  • Smooth finish 
  • Suitable for labelling or printing 
  • Long shelf life 

These characteristics make duplex boards a decent and apt choice for the consumer market. As a result, duplex boards are linked to a variety of applications. These applications are diverse and versatile just like the features exhibited by duplex boards. 

Some of the key applications of duplex boards that make them a key choice to consumers and manufacturers are: 

  • Food industry 
  • Garment industry 
  • Beverage industry 
  • Toy industry 
  • Pharmaceutical industry 
  • Dairy industry 

The characteristics given off by duplex boards make them a perfect fit for packaging materials of various industries mentioned just above. That is why duplex boards are present in almost every shop and every house in urban setups. 

What are duplex boards made of?

The materials used to make duplex boards will determine whether duplex boards are biodegradable or not. If material is made from natural substances then chances are that it is biodegradable. However, if a material is made from non-natural substances then chances are that the material is not biodegradable. 

In the case of duplex boards, it is seen that these boards are made from natural substances. The material used to make duplex boards usually is wood pulp. Since duplex boards are made from plant-based material, it can be said that duplex boards contain no synthetic materials. 

What are biodegradable products?

Biodegradable products are products that can be converted into simple waste by the action of microbes. Microbes responsible for the biodegradation may be bacteria, fungi, algae, yeast and protozoa as well. 

Biodegradability is the Earth’s natural process to dispose of waste because if waste is not degraded then it may accumulate in the environment. 

This accumulation of waste will have many negative impacts on the environment and human health. The accumulation of waste will also make it very difficult for authorities to manage waste. 

Regarding biodegradability, the general rule of thumb is that natural substances are readily biodegradable because microbes can effectively degrade their structures. Examples of biodegradable waste may be: 

  • Food waste
  • Human waste 
  • Manure Sewage 
  • Hospital waste 
  • Dead animals & Plants 
  • Waste from slaughterhouse 
  • Toilet paper

However, man-made substances which are synthesised in the lab are not prone to the process of biodegradability. As a result, these wastes may persist in the environment for a very long time and cause many problems. Examples of non-biodegradable waste may be: 

  • Plastics 
  • Hazardous substances
  • Pesticides
  • Fertilisers
  • E-wastes
  • Rubbers
  • Polymers
  • Shopping bags 
  • Packaging materials
  • Plastic bottles 
  • Nuclear Wastes

Are duplex boards biodegradable?

Duplex boards are made from 100% pulp or recycled paper. Pulp is a plant-based product which is naturally occurring. Therefore, duplex boards are biodegradable. 

This implies that duplex boards can be degraded by the action of microbes in several months and can become part of nature again. 

The biodegradability of duplex boards is yet another feature of why they are commonly used for versatile applications. 

Are duplex boards eco-friendly?

Although it has been validated that duplex boards are biodegradable because they are made from natural plant-based materials (wood pulp & recycled paper), it does not necessarily mean that duplex boards are eco-friendly as well. 

It is a misconception that if something is biodegradable, it should also be eco-friendly as well. Although there is a link between biodegradability and eco-friendliness, there are many factors that create a rift between the two.

Factors such as how a product is produced, how it is used and how it is disposed of are very important in determining whether a product is eco-friendly or not despite being biodegradable. 

For example, consider a product that is biodegradable. Biodegradable products are disposed of in green colours dustbins because such dustbins are particularly designed and intended for biodegradable waste. 

If a biodegradable product is not disposed of in green dustbins it may still cause harm to life and the environment because it is seen that many biodegradable products release harmful and toxic gases during the process of degradation. 

Another example can be how a product is produced/manufactured. Let us say that a biodegradable product is used by employing unsustainable and nonrenewable resources while also the use of agrochemicals is linked. 

Even though the product is biodegradable, the use of agrochemicals and non-renewable sources of energy make the product harmful to the environment. 

Therefore, it is proposed that duplex boards may be biodegradable. But in order for duplex boards to be eco-friendly, it must be ensured that the production process makes use of renewable sources of energy in a sustainable manner. 

Duplex boards must be used in a sustainable manner as well because otherwise, stress will be put on the production process and this stress may be met by the use of harmful chemicals such as fertilisers and pesticides. 

Lastly, the disposal of duplex boards is also of great importance because if duplex boards are not disposed of rightly, the environment may still be at some risk. 

All these factors are extremely important in determining whether duplex boards are eco-friendly or not. 

What are the uses of duplex boards?

Since we have discussed the biodegradability and eco-friendliness aspect of duplex boards, let us rummage over some of the key uses of duplex boards. 

Duplex boards offer a multitude of advantages such as rigidness, water resistance, moisture resistance, and smooth surface. Due to these advantages, they are extensively used in packaging for many industries. 

Duplex boards are associated with the pharmaceutical industry, food and beverage industry, toy industry, and dairy industry– to name a few. Owing to the immense applications, duplex boards are found in almost every house. 

The use of duplex boards in food and beverage packing quite stood out because the qualities given off by duplex boards make them a perfect fit. As a result, most of these industries rely on duplex boards made from recycled pulp or paper because this option is also budget-friendly. 

Can duplex boards be used as compost?

Compost is a decaying organic matter which has nutritional content and hence can be used as a fertiliser to improve soil quality and augment the crops’ yield. 

Since a duplex board is made from organic material (paper or pulp) it can be made into compost. 

The wood pulp or paper used to make duplex boards contain cellulose, lignin, and hemicellulose along with other essential minerals like nitrogen, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and manganese. This makes an excellent fit for compost material. 

This is another advantage because fertilisers made from compost are a green alternative to commercial fertilisers. Commercial fertilisers pose many health and environment-related risks which are avoided when natural fertilisers are used instead.

The negative effects of chemical fertilisers may be: 

  • Soil acidity 
  • Mineral Depletion 
  • Water pollution 
  • Damage to plants and crops 
  • Increased air pollution 
  • Changes in soil conditions 
  • Depletion of oxygen in water bodies
  • Deforestation 
  • Numerous health risks as these chemicals enter food chains 

Why is the biodegradability of duplex boards important?

With the increasing consumerism and rising population, more waste is now being generated than ever. As per studies, an average person creates about 4-5 kgs of waste each day. 

As a result, more than 2 billion tons of waste are added to the environment each year. These figures are a nightmare for waste management authorities. 

Now imagine, if these 2 billion tons of waste persist in the environment for hundreds of years. Non-biodegradable waste may last up to a thousand years. 

What this implies is that if non-biodegradable waste is produced more, by the time waste of one year is degraded, 2000 more billion tons of waste would be added making the situation and the Earth irreversible. 

That is why there is a need for biodegradable waste because such waste may degrade in a few months leaving many opportunities for waste management authorities to manage the waste better. 

Another reason why duplex boards should be biodegradable is that because of its versatile functions, a massive quantity of duplex boards is made every year. Therefore, it is very important to know if this massive amount produced adheres to the concept of biodegradability or not. 

Conclusion

It is concluded that duplex boards are made from pulp or recycled paper. Since natural substances are employed in the manufacture of duplex boards, these are biodegradable. 

However, for duplex boards to be eco-friendly, it must be ensured that duplex boards are manufactured, used and disposed of in the right way. This includes the use of sustainable and renewable sources of energy and the avoidance of agrochemicals. 

Duplex boards are also recyclable and can be made into compost that can be used as a natural fertiliser, reducing the use of chemical fertilisers that have many negative impacts on the environment and human health. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Are duplex boards biodegradable?

Should damp duplex boards be recycled?

It is not suggested that damp duplex boards be recycled because they can clog and affect the recycling systems. 

What colours do duplex boards come in?

Duplex boards usually come in grey colour and that is why they are also called grey boxes. However, they may also come in black and white colours. 

References

  • Innocenti, F. D. (2003). Biodegradability and compostability. In Biodegradable polymers and plastics (pp. 33-45). Springer, Boston, MA.
  • Diaz, L. F., De Bertoldi, M., & Bidlingmaier, W. (Eds.). (2011). Compost science and technology. Elsevier.
  • Bulkeley, H., & Askins, K. (2009). Waste interfaces: biodegradable waste, municipal policy and everyday practice. Geographical Journal, 175(4), 251-260.
  • Treimanis, A. (1996). Wood pulp fiber structure and chemical composition, their influence on technological processes. Nordic Pulp & Paper Research Journal, 11(3), 146-151.

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