Is bagasse biodegradable? (7 reasons why it is sustainable) 

The article will shed light on the biodegradability of bagasse. Other topics that will be explained include:

  • Is bagasse renewable?
  • Is bagasse compostable? How can it be composted?
  • Why is bagasse sustainable?
  • Why is bagasse better than paper or pulp?

Is bagasse biodegradable?

Yes, bagasse is biodegradable. It is a plant-based material with all the naturality involved. There is no element of ‘synthetic’ in the said material which makes it completely and readily biodegradable in a period of 30-90 days. 

When it comes to biodegradation, there are some general rules of thumb. One of them is that natural materials (specifically organic) are more prone to biodegradation because they offer the necessary nutrients that the microbes can ingest as food. 

As the name implies, biodegradation can be understood by delving into two major terminologies. One is ‘bio’ and the other is ‘degradation’. As you can guess, biodegradation is the breakdown of materials by the action of microbes such as bacteria, fungi, decomposers et cetera. 

But, the microbes do require something in return and that is their food in the form of nutritional contents. This is the primary factor that discerns biodegradable material from non-biodegradable material. 

Since bagasse is sourced from plants, it is natural and organic. It offers the necessary nutrients to the microbes which make the said material readily biodegradable. 

Is bagasse a utilisation of waste?

Yes, bagasse is a good example of the utilisation of waste. The use of bagasse was nothing more than being dumped into trash cans because it was considered to be a useless substance which could not be involved in any process or product. 

However, with rising environmental awareness and developing technology, the trend has been shifting. It is the result of this shift that scientists discovered that bagasse (the waste produced after the sugarcane is extracted for juice) can be used to make commercial products such as culinary items, kitchenware et cetera. 

This leads to a number of advantages such as the products made from bagasse are strong and durable. They are sustainable as these products can readily degrade and can also be composted. 

Also, there is a multitude of reuses and repurposes of these materials like any other consumer material with only the difference that the products are made from waste instead of valuable resources such as cotton or paper (that require time, energy, and resources to grow). 

Is bagasse renewable?

Yes, bagasse is considered readily renewable as compared to its competitors (paper, pulp et cetera). To better understand, let us get assisted with stats. 

A tree usually grows in about 7 years. This means that packaging material made from trees consumes 7 years’ worth of resources. Sugarcane, on the other hand, takes about 1 year to grow. The resources in this case will be worth only 1 year. The discrepancy is clear. 

Can bagasse be composted?

Yes, bagasse can definitely be composted. This is because bagasse is an entirely natural and organic material and does not involve the use of synthetic chemicals or materials. 

Furthermore, since bagasse is a plant-based material, it will also have a good amount of organic content which can be used for a variety of benefits. 

When bagasse is composted, the compost can be used to improve the fertility of the soil while also leading to improved water retention profiles of the soil. 

Therefore, the real question that now becomes is how can bagasse be composted. Let us deliberate on some of the available options. 

How can bagasse be composted?

When it comes to the composting of bagasse, there are some options that you can consider and choose from. One is to have the bagasse and other compostable materials sent to a composting facility where the rest will be taken care of by professionals. 

However, if you wish to do it yourself, here are some steps that will help you along the way: 

  • Select a suitable place for composting. It should be spacy and accessible enough
  • Make your compost pile. Add all the compostable material including bagasse
  • Be sure to make a good amount of heap. Depends on both brown and green matter. These will act as a source of carbon and nitrogen. 
  • Be sure to continuously mix the heap and provide the necessary external conditions such as shade and temperature. 
  • Wait until the composting process is complete. 
  • Once it is complete, utilise the compost well so that your garden may be benefitted well 

What makes bagasse sustainable?

This is a common question which is raised because many wonder what are the factors that make bagasse a sustainable product. For that consider the following points:

Bagasse is better than its counterparts

Bagasse is used to make products such as kitchen materials, culinary items, and also food packaging. Other candidates for the making of these materials include paper and pulp. 

But the main catch is that materials such as paper and pulp require area, water and time to grow. Whereas, bagasse itself is a waste material (which can also be discarded). Therefore, this gives bagasse an advantage over its counterparts. 

Also, it is claimed that the carbon footprint of bagasse is comparatively lower because when sugarcane is grown, atmospheric carbon is captured and converted into biomass. 

Bagasse leads to water conservation 

When consumers and producers shift to bagasse (a biorenewable material) and prefer it over its counterparts such as paper and pulp, there is direct conservation of water. 

This is because huge amounts of water are required to grow paper and pulp and when these materials are utilised, there is no other use. 

Whereas, in the case of bagasse, the sugarcane can be used for purposes such as juice extraction and then the remains can be used to make products such as packaging material. 

Bagasse saves from deforestation 

Owing to the reasons explained in the above section, it can also be said that bagasse leads to a decline in deforestation. 

When products from paper and pulp are made, trees are cut. This leads to deforestation and the negative processes that come along. 

However, when bagasse is preferred, there is no need to cut trees as bagasse sources are from biorenewable sources which may result in a decline in deforestation. This means the severity of environmental anomalies such as global warming, pollution, and soil erosion can also be reduced. 

Bagasse can be recycled, repurposed, and reused 

Just like with any other consumer products, the products made from bagasse can also be recycled and reused. This gives another benefit and adds to the green profile of bagasse as a sustainable material. 

  • The products made from bagasse can be recycled by various recycling programs such as local recycling centres or Terracycle. However, it may be mentioned that not all centres will accept bagasse. You will need to deliberate on this. 
  • If the products made from bagasse are in good condition, they may be reused either by you or anyone else. You may also condition donation
  • Also, if you think that bagasse products have lost their functional value, you can repurpose them for options such as arts, crafts, and DIY projects. 

A final remark (7 reasons why it is sustainable) 

Therefore, based on the literature discussed so far, it can be concluded that bagasse is a sustainable material because:

  • Bagasse is natural, organic, and biodegradable 
  • Bagasse can be composted
  • Bagasse is a utilisation of waste 
  • Bagasse is better than its counterparts which require water and resources to grow 
  • Bagasse can be recycled, repurposed and reused 
  • Bagasse is antagonistic to deforestation 
  • Bagasse results in water conservation 

Conclusion 

It is concluded that bagasse is biodegradable because it is sourced from plant-based materials (sugarcane). Bagasse is not only biodegradable but also sustainable as it leads to water conservation and a decline in deforestation. 

Also, the products made from bagasse can be composted (offering environmental advantages) other than being reused and recycled. Bagasse is better than its competitors because it is utilisation of waste while also requiring less amount of water and resources. 

References

BioPak. Why do we love bagasse? Retrieved from: https://www.biopak.com/sg/resources/bagasse-sugarcane-pulp-benefits

Carbon negative. What is bagasse? Retrieved from: https://www.catering24.co.uk/what-is-bagasse-biodegradable-packaging

BioPak. What is bagasse? Retrieved from: https://www.biopak.com/uk/resources/what-is-bagasse

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