Is cellulose sponge biodegradable? (3 sustainable factors) 

The article will answer the question of whether cellulose sponge is biodegradable or not. Other covered topics would include:

  • Sustainability 
  • Disposal options
  • Green alternatives 

Is cellulose sponge biodegradable?

Yes, pure cellulose sponge is plant-based and has the right nutritional content which can be degraded by the action of microbes. 

As can be assumed from the term, biodegradation is the breakdown caused by the action of microbes. This is an important parameter to ensure that there is no waste accumulation and build-up. 

However, with the rising consumerism, there is an increasing demand for non-natural alternatives which are not sourced from plants but chemicals from labs. This will not be degraded by the action of microbes. 

Therefore, to ensure a stance on the biodegradation of cellulose sponge, it is essential to make sure that the cellulose sponge is organic and natural. Also, no dyes or synthetic chemicals are used to make cellulose sponges. In this case, the cellulose sponge fibres will degrade in about 4-9 months or so. 

As expressed, not all cellulose sponges will be completely natural. Some will have additional plastic scouring pads or other non-biodegradable components which will make the sponge unfit for biodegradation. 

Is cellulose sponge sustainable? (3 sustainable factors)

Yes, cellulose sponges can be eco-friendly and sustainable if the following conditions are pursued:

  • Cellulose sponge is 100% natural and organic 
  • Cellulose sponge is made without the use of chemicals and fertilisers 
  • Cellulose sponge is used sustainably and dealt with care to avoid over-consumption of resources
  • Cellulose sponge is disposed of sustainably (if it is biodegradable, it is advisable to not dispose of it in regular trash cans) 
  • Cellulose sponge is not dyed and processed chemically 

If these points are kept duly in mind, then cellulose sponge can be called sustainable and can be way better than synthetic sponges (made from plastics)  such as polyester in terms of environmental gains and benefits. 

It is usually perceived that natural materials such as natural fibres are eco-friendly and sustainable and will not take a toll on the environment. While this may be true, it is not a necessary perception all the time. 

Therefore, let us assess how sustainable cellulose sponge can be. This can be segregated into brackets such as manufacture, processing, dyeing, and disposal. 

Production

When it comes to manufacturing, the raw materials need to be given some scrutiny. When it comes to that, it can be said that a huge amount of water is used to make cellulose sponges. Therefore, the production of cellulose sponge fibres does rely on substantial amounts of water resources. 

Further, it is necessary to ensure that there are no fertilisers or other chemicals used to make cellulose sponges because otherwise, there will be negative and degradative consequences on the environment and the soil. 

Use 

The usability of cellulose sponge fibres also varies based on the consumers. It is important to make sure that the cellulose sponge is dealt with care and necessary precautions so that there is no excessive burden on the resources. The following points may be kept in mind to ensure that cellulose sponges are used carefully and prolonged life is ensured:

  • Different cellulose sponges are used for particular purposes. For example, the cellulose sponge for the kitchen must be different from the cellulose sponge for the toilet
  • The cellulose sponge must be washed properly to ensure a good life period
  • The cellulose sponge must be kept and stored in the right conditions to ensure that the most are extracted from cellulose sponges. 

Disposal 

Lastly, disposal also matters a lot. Since natural cellulose sponge can be degraded by microbes or even composted, it is wise to say that disposing of natural cellulose sponge in regular trash cans would not be a sustainable option. 

The eco-friendly options would include:

  • Composting 
  • Reusing or Repurposing 
  • Recycling 

Can you compost cellulose sponge?

Many people wonder if cellulose sponge products can be composted. The answer is yes. It can be composted if you are certain that what you have is a natural and organic cellulose sponge. If you are unsure if the cellulose sponge is non-natural or infiltrated, then it is best to go for other disposal options such as reuse or recycling.

The next big question is how to compost cellulose sponge or what are the ways through which cellulose sponge can be composted. For this, consider the following steps: 

Simply collect your cellulose sponge products’ leftovers, add them with other compostable material and drop it off in a nearby composting facility. 

However, if there are no nearby composting facilities, you can also compost cellulose sponge at home by pursuing the following steps: 

  • Select a suitable place for composting. The place should be a bit distant from your home but should also be accessible
  • Shred cellulose sponge into smaller pieces 
  • Make a heap of compostable material 
  • You may either do it openly or prefer a composting bin (which is usually preferred in the case of hot composting) 
  • While making the heap, be careful of the green-to-brown ratio. Green material means nitrogen-rich material such as leaves whereas brown material means carbon-rich material such as cardboard boxes
  • Make alternate layers of green and brown. After each duo, add a thin layer of soil. Keep up until you have 4 feet of the heap. 
  • Continuously mix (every 4-5 days) the heap and be sure to provide the right external conditions which include aeration, shade and appropriate temperature
  • Once the compost is ready, use it resourcefully and wisely 

Can you recycle cellulose sponge?

Another efficient way to dispose of cellulose sponges is to have them recycled. This will make the products new with very little consumption of energy and resources. 

This will also reduce the amount of cellulose sponge waste produced because when cellulose sponge is recycled, there will be no waste production. This can be done through 

  • Disposing of in recycling bins
  • Transporting the cellulose sponge to recycling facilities
  • Having the nearby recycling centres pick up your cellulose sponge and other recyclable material via appointment 

Is cellulose sponge the most eco-friendly option? 

No, cellulose sponge is natural, biodegradable, recyclable, and can even be composted. However, it does not imply that it is the most eco-friendly option available out there. 

There are other options too that may be more eco-friendly such as

  • Sponges made from loofahs
  • Sponges made from hemp 
  • Sponges made from bamboo 
  • Sea sponges 

All these options give tough competition to cellulose sponges. However, it is claimed that the most eco-friendly sponge is the real sea sponge which is actually a very simple animal (and not a product) offering the following advantages:

  • Extraordinarily absorbent
  • Very durable and resistant to tearing 
  • Astonishingly soft (perfect for baby’s bath time!)
  • 100% biodegradable
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Non-toxic
  • Renewable resources
  • Harvested by methods of sustainability

Conclusion

It is concluded that cellulose sponge is biodegradable because it is plant-based and has the right nutritional content which can be degraded by the action of microbes.

The article discussed the sustainability of cellulose sponge against three factors that included production, use, and disposal. Green alternatives were also given including hemp-based, bamboo-based, and sea sponge. 

The article explained how cellulose sponge can be recycled or composted after making sure that it has been used sustainably. 

References

  • Aguirre, Sarah. (November 25, 2022). Cellulose Sponge: Uses Benefits, Cleaning, Disposal. Retrieved from: https://www.thespruce.com/using-and-cleaning-cellulose-sponges-1900888

Leave a Comment