Is Aquafoam biodegradable? (5 ways to dispose of Aquafoam) 

Aquafoam or floral foam is a product mostly used by florists to manage their flowers. However, there are concerns regarding its environmental impacts. This article explains the following areas related to aqua of floral foam:

  • Uses of floral foam
  • How floral foam is made and from which materials
  • Is floral foam biodegradable
  • Can it be recycled
  • How can it be properly disposed
  • Any alternatives
  • FAQs

Is Aquafoam biodegradable?

Aquafoam is not biodegradable. Floral foam is a petroleum-derived product which means that it is technically plastic. 

This means that it remains on our planet for decades before finally being decomposed because it is non-biodegradable plastic. It breaks into smaller and smaller pieces forming microbeads which are extremely harmful to marine life.

It can also not be recycled. However, it can be reused. If one does not mind the holes created by earlier flowerings then they can surely be reused but they cannot be recycled.

One of the best ways to get away with Aquafoam if it can not be reused further is to send it to a landfill because otherwise, there will be a threat to land, aquatic, marine life and ecosystem

Are Aquafoam and floral foam the same?

Yes, they are the same. Aquafoam is a brand that manufactures floral foams. Floral foam is a sponge-like foam which absorbs and holds water almost fifty times its waste. It can be cut easily and can be moulded easily which explains why it is so popular among florists.

The floral foam was invented by V.L Smithers, the founder of OASIS more than half a century ago. It was made by a combination of carbon black, formaldehyde and phenolic foam. It made arranging flowers speedier and simpler. It exploded in popularity ever since and is still used today.

However, there are huge concerns regarding its biodegradability and its impact on the environment as it has been reported to be non-biodegradable, non-recyclable, and toxic to humans as well as animals and plants. 

Is Aquafoam biodegradable?

No, it is not biodegradable. Biodegradability of a product means that it is able to decompose in nature in a short period of time through the work of microorganisms such as fungi, bacteria etc.   

Floral foam is a petroleum-derived product which means that it is technically plastic. It is non-biodegradable which means that it remains on our planet for decades before finally being decomposed and because it is non-biodegradable plastic. It breaks into smaller and smaller pieces forming microbeads which are extremely harmful to marine life.

There are two factors or aspects that can tell if something is biodegradable or not. One is how lasting it is in a natural setting and the other is what is the environmental impact of a particular product. 

By definition, biodegradability is the degradation that is caused by microbes. These microbes may include bacteria, fungi, algae, protozoa, and even yeast. 

Biodegradability is an important factor to assess how green or sustainable a product is. The general rule of thumb regarding biodegradability is that natural materials are more prone to biodegradability as compared to non-natural materials. 

Floral foam is also non-recyclable and keeping in mind that it is a single-use product, one can surely anticipate the kind of damage it does to the environment. So what happens is that it is manufactured, used, discarded and then will stay on the planet-forming microbeads and end up in our plates through fish in the oceans that inhale them. 

Recycling is yet another very important aspect that preaches about the sustainability of a product. When a product is recyclable, the following benefits are ensured: 

  • Better waste management
  • Better resource management
  • Decreased GHG emissions
  • Decreased global warming
  • Increased reliance on renewable resources
  • Decreased LCA 
  • Decreased use of chemicals 
  • The sustainable strain on raw materials 
  • Better utilisation of resources 

Aquafoam, being non-recyclable, means that there is a tradeoff of all these benefits for utility and economic gains. 

Is Aquafoam made of natural materials?

Aquafoam or floral foam is made of three main ingredients which are carbon black, formaldehyde, and phenolic foam. These are synthetic compounds meaning that the majority of the production is done in laboratories and is not found in nature which puts them out of question for biodegradability.

All of these materials are known to be toxic to humans especially carbon black which has been known to cause cancers at high exposure. Formaldehyde and phenols are also known to be toxic to humans.

The general rule of thumb regarding biodegradability and the type of materials used is that natural materials are more prone to biodegradation as compared to non-natural materials. This is mainly because natural materials have organic and natural content which can be used by the microbes as a food source. 

We see that in the case of Aquafoam, the same trend is followed, Since Aquafoam is not made of natural materials, it is not biodegradable and is also perceived as being eco-friendly. 

In what ways can Aquafoam be reused or recycled?

Yes, it can be reused. If one does not mind the holes created by earlier flowerings then it can surely be reused but it cannot be recycled. Instead, it forms microbeads by breaking into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic which pose a huge threat to marine life. 

How to properly dispose of Aquafoam? (5 ways) 

The proper way to dispose of Aquafoam is to send it to a landfill site and the idea behind is that if it stays in one place it may cause less harm than it would if it were in the ocean. Here are some of the things that should be kept in mind when disposing of Aquafoam or floral foam:

  • It should never be thrown in sinks or waterways.
  • It should not be broken into smaller pieces.
  • It should never be burned as it will release toxic gases.
  • It should be sent to a landfill site.
  • It should be reused as many times as possible to decrease the demand for new ones.

How does Aquafoam affect aquatic life and how can you prevent it?

As discussed earlier, Aquafoam or floral foam is a non-biodegradable product which means that it does degrade naturally instead it remains on the planet for thousands of years to come so what happens to it then?

As floral or Aquafoam is plastic it means that it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces in the oceans till the microscopic level where it is ingested by small microscopic marine animals such as zooplankton afterwards it bioaccumulates throughout the food chain to finally reach our table through a fish which by then has ingested a large quantity.

Microbeads have a huge impact on marine life and have been found even in the deepest living fishes in the ocean. These plastics have the ability to absorb toxins which are then transferred throughout the whole food chain. 

Are there any more biodegradable alternative options than Aquafoam?

Manufacturers such as OASIS are trying hard to create biodegradable floral foam but have met little success. Many companies are marketing new types of floral foams which they claim to have low environmental impacts due to less usage of formaldehyde.

These efforts appear only to be marketing strategies rather than honest efforts because there is no such thing as a low-impact Aquafoam. The statement sounds weird but it is true in the sense that the change in actual composition which makes floral foam the foam we all know will impact it with several abilities for which it is prized.

So the basic composition of floral foam i.e Carbon black, formaldehyde and phenol remains the same more or less which means that it is still non-biodegradable and will form microbeads if oceans which ultimately harms us as humans. 

Alternatives to floral foams include old methods which are eco-friendly such as using pebbles, and gravel to hold flowers. Chicken wire or metal pins and excellent and eco-friendly options and many other similar options which have zero environmental impacts are better options. 

Conclusion 

It is concluded that Aquafoam is not biodegradable. Floral foam is a petroleum-derived product which means that it is technically plastic. 

This means that it remains on our planet for decades before finally being decomposed because it is non-biodegradable plastic. It breaks into smaller and smaller pieces forming microbeads which are extremely harmful for marine life.

It can also not be recycled. However, it can be reused. If one does not mind the holes created by earlier flowerings then they can surely be reused but they cannot be recycled.

One of the best ways to get away with Aquafoam if it can not be reused further is to send it to a landfill because otherwise, there will be a threat to land, aquatic, marine life and the ecosystem. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Is Aquafoam biodegradable?

Is Aquafoam also called floral foam?

Yes, both are the same. Aquafoam is a brand that manufactures floral foam.  Floral foam is a sponge-like foam which absorbs and holds water almost fifty times its waste. It can be cut easily and can be moulded easily which explains why it is so popular among florists.

Is Aquafoam sustainable?

No, Aquafoam is made from materials that are known to be toxic to humans, especially carbon black which has been known to cause cancers at high exposure. There are environmental impacts on the aquatic and marine ecosystems too. 

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