Are rotten apples biodegradable? (13 problems caused by rotten apples) 

In this article, the biodegradability of rotten apples will be analysed. A number of related topics will also be studied including: 

  • What is rotten apple waste?
  • What is food waste?
  • Is food waste the same as food loss?
  • What is biodegradability?
  • What are examples of biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste?
  • Why is rotten apple waste a problem?
  • Are rotten apples biodegradable?
  • FAQs

Are rotten apples biodegradable?

Yes, rotten apples are biodegradable because they are naturally-occurring fruits which can degrade by the action of microbes. 

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. 

What is rotten apple waste?

Do you remember the last time you went to the kitchen and found foul-smelling food? Can you recall what you did to it? You may remember that you simply threw that food away in your dustbin without having a second thought. 

But have you ever thought about what happens to the food that you throw away in the dust bin? Have you ever wondered if that food caused any environmental and health-related problems?

When food items like fruits and vegetables start to deteriorate, it means that microbes have started their work on them. The natural process of biodegradability has commenced. The story of rotten apples is no different. 

Rotten apple waste has become a global concern because food waste is responsible for the wastage of more than one-third of the food produced. Rotten apples are apples exposed to microbes which deteriorate its quality and apearance. This can be delayed by putting apples in refrigenerators.

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?

The understanding of food waste is not as complex as that of biodegradability. 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.   

What are 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. 

Therefore, it can be assumed that rotten apple waste is an issue of food waste rather than food loss. 

What is biodegradability?

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: 

  • Bacillus sp.
  • Pseudomonas fluorescens
  • Bacillus vallismortis bt-dsce01
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae CH001

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. 

Biodegradability is nature’s way of ensuring that there is no waste and that the waste produced is taken back into the system. It is because mother nature is aware that if there is waste, there will be complications and obstructions. 

To understand this, the article invited you to an analogy. Imagine that for some reason you are unable to dispose of waste in your home or office. The situation may be manageable for some days but not very long.

Now, imagine that you can not dispose of the waste for several hundred years. The first thought that you will get is that your home or office will become unlivable. The same is the case for biodegradability and the earth. 

Biodegradability is the earth’s dustbin and earth is our home. If there is no biodegradability, there is no waste disposal. This will, eventually, steal our home’ capacity to sustain life. Results? Mass extinction and environmental degradations. 

What are the examples of biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste?

In this section, various examples of biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste will be covered to further our understanding of the concept and science of biodegradability. 

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: 

  • Sewage 
  • Crop waste
  • Waste from slaughterhouse 
  • Natural fibres
  • Food waste
  • Plant waste
  • Animal waste
  • Manure
  • Natural fabrics 

Non-biodegradable waste, on the other hand, can not be degraded by the action of microbes. It is mainly because microbes cannot 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: 

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

Why is rotten apple waste a problem? (13 problems caused by rotten apples) 

The issue of rotten apple waste is an important issue because of many harmful environmental impacts that are associated with rotten apple use. 

First and foremost is the issue of waste generation. The current scenario regarding waste generation is already quite dense and grey. As per stats, more than 2 billion tons of waste are generated globally.

This translates into that an average person is responsible for the generation of more than 4 kgs of waste per day. Due to these grave figures, it has become very difficult for authorities to manage waste. 

The issue of food waste is equally assertive as that of other waste. Global food waste is expected at 1.3 billion tons. This affects the people and also the economy. Global food waste is expected to give a big jolt to the economy. 

It is expected that food waste causes a loss of more than 1 trillion US Dollars. These figures speak for themselves. 

It is claimed that more than one-third of produced food is wasted. This causes much strain on the agricultural land. Also, the use of agrochemicals like fertilisers and pesticides is also increased to meet the demands that surge up owing to food waste. 

Another major issue that is anchored to the problem of food waste is that when food is degraded, the process releases harmful gases like ethylene. This is a greenhouse gases that is responsible for environmental problems like global warming. 

Since the engine of the Earth is linkage, global warming, in turn, leads to many other environmental and health-related complications including: 

  • 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 
  • Food waste management problems

Are rotten 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 rotten 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. 


Apples are found in nature as fruits. They are biodegradable and may degrade in about a week’s time. Rotten apples are biodegradable because there is no difference as such 

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 rotten apples safe to eat?

It is advised to not eat rotten apples because they may contain harmful microbes and toxic mold. Their exposure may put your health at risk. 

Can rotten apples be of any use?

Yes, there are a number of ways to utilise rotten apples. Such as apple sauce, fruit leather, apple smoothie, and apple chips. 


  • 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.

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