Is eraser biodegradable? (5 types of erasers).

This article shall answer the question, “is eraser biodegradable?.

It shall also cover other areas such as:

  • Types of rubbers and their uses.
  • Types of erasers.
  • Biodegradability of erasers.
  • Eco-friendliness of different erasers.

Is eraser biodegradable?

Yes, some erasers are biodegradable, while others are not. Erasers made from natural products such as latex are biodegradable. Erasers made from synthetic materials such as vinyl plastic are not biodegradable.

Biodegradation is the breakdown of organic matter into small particles which are non-toxic to the environment.

Degradation is carried out but several abiotic agents such as UV radiation, light, and water.

But the most effective agents of biodegradation are bacteria and fungi.

Bacteria species such as pseudomonas, bacillus, and mycobacterium are very efficient in breaking down organic matter.

Fungal species such as mildew, mold, yeast, and mushrooms are also very effective in breaking down organic matter into small biomass.

The main products of biodegradation are water, carbon dioxide, methane, small biomass, and energy.

Aerobic biodegradation is the breakdown of organic materials by microorganisms using oxygen to produce water, carbon dioxide, small biomass, and energy.

Anaerobic biodegradation is the breakdown of organic matter by microorganisms into small biomass, energy, and methane gas.

Some of the small biomass produced by biodegradation is assimilated by microorganisms into their system while the rest is left in the soil, creating part of soil humus.

What is an eraser?

An eraser is a substance used to get rid of marks or writing on a paper, on a wall, or any other place.

There are different types of erasers depending on the material from which they are formed.

There are two categories of eraser material:

  • Natural rubber.
  • Synthetic rubber.

Natural rubber. 

Natural rubber is a type of rubber that is obtained from the latex which is produced by the cells of latex-producing bees.

The main natural material in the natural rubber is isoprene. 

The isoprene monomers join together to form a rubber polymer.

Natural rubber is produced from latex. 

Latex is acquired from latex-producing trees by a process called tapping.

The collection of latex entails:

  • Making tappings on trees by cutting the back of the tree.
  • Attaching collecting vessels to the trees where latex accumulates

After the collection of latex, the next process is making rubber from latex.

The process entails:

  • Collecting latex in drums.
  • Adding chemicals such as nitric acid to the latex.
  • The latex curds formed are then cut into shapes to form rubber.
  • The rubber produced can be made tougher by adding sulfur, a process called vulcanization.

Uses of synthetic rubber.

Natural rubber is used in the following ways:

  • Making rubber erasers.
  • Making surgical gloves.
  • Making motor tires.
  • Making pacifiers.
  • Making toys.
  • Used in clothes.
  • Making rubber bands.
  • Making shoe-soles.
  • Making hoses and pipes.
  • Making floor mats.
  • Making balloons.
  • Making condoms.

Synthetic rubber.

It is an artificial rubber that is made from petroleum components through a chemical process.

It is a polymer of styrene-butadiene polymer.

Types of synthetic rubber.

They include:

  • Nitrile rubber.
  • Silicone rubber.
Nitrile rubber

It is a type of synthetic rubber made from butadiene and acrylonitrile.

It is also called nitrile-butadiene rubber, NBR.

It is resistant to oil, fuel, and chemical compounds.

Uses of nitrile rubber.
  • Nitrile rubber is used in:
  • Making non-latex gloves.
  • Making automotive belts.
  • Making gaskets.
  • Making oil seals.
  • Making rollers.
  • Making cable jackets.
  • Making hydraulic seals.
  • Making synthetic leather.
Silicone rubber.

It is a type of synthetic rubber made from silicon and oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon.

Uses of silicone rubber.

It is used in:

  • Making insulators for cooking and electrical gadgets.
  • Making clothes.
  • Making shoes and sportswear.
  • Making adhesives.
  • Making sealants.
  • Making lubricants.
  • Making resins.

Types of erasers.

There are different types of erasers depending on their purpose and the material from which they are made.

They include the following:

  • Pencil or cap erasers.
  • Artist’s gum eraser.
  • Vinyl erasers.
  • Kneaded erasers.
  • Poster putty erasers.
  • Electric erasers.
  • Fiberglass erasers.
  • Chalkboard erasers.

Pencil/Cap erasers.

This type of eraser was originally made from natural rubber but it is now made from styrene-butadiene synthetic rubber.

It contains vegetable oil plasticizer that makes it softer, and more flexible and also decreases its viscosity.

It is sometimes attached to the pencils.

Usually, pink in color.

Artist’s gum eraser.

This eraser was originally made from corn oil that was vulcanized with sulfur dichloride to make it more flexible and tough.

It is now made from synthetic, natural, or vinyl rubbers.

It is a very soft eraser and crumbles as it is used 

It is best for large areas.

The eraser is usually brown or blue.

Vinyl erasers.

This eraser is made from high-quality vinyl compounds which are synthetic materials.

It is soft and non-abrasive.

It erases cleaner than standard rubber erasers because it does not have graphite residues.

It is usually white and occurs in different shapes.

Kneaded eraser.

It is made from synthetic plastics.

It erases small areas and tight details since they are pulled into a point or sharp edge.

When they are overused, they become less efficient and less resilient.

They are not suitable for large-scale areas due to the tendency to deform when overused.

Poster putty erasers.

These erasers are commonly used in school and at home.

The poster putty eraser is soft and malleable.

It comes in different colors.

It is used to erase marks on posters and wall prints.

It does not work on a large scale.

Poster putty can be shaped into fine points for erasing detailed or small areas.

It loses its efficacy with over-use as it is destroyed by oils from the user’s skin.

Electric erasers.

The electric eraser was invented by Albert J. Dremel of Racine, Wisconsin, the USA in 1932.

The eraser is placed in a replaceable cylinder, held by a chuck, and driven by a motor.

The motor speed is controlled to regulate pressure, reducing paper damage.

Fiberglass erasers.

A fiberglass eraser is made from very fine glass fibers.

It is used for erasing ink marks and also for abrasions on different gadgets.

The eraser is pen-shaped, with a replaceable part to insert glass fibers.

The fiberglass is very hard.

Fiberglass erasers can also be used to remove rust on appliances and also cleaning electronic circuit boards in preparation for soldering.

Chalkboard erasers.

They are also called blackboard erasers.

They are used to remove chalk marks on blackboards or chalkboards.

They are made with a plastic or wood on one side and a felt or rubber on the other.

Biodegradation of erasers.

As we have seen, erasers are made from different materials, either natural or synthetic.

Types of erasers made from natural rubber, such as pencil or artist’s gum are biodegradable.

This is because microorganisms involved in biodegradation can only act on those products which are organic; produced by plants or animals.

Natural rubber is acquired from latex which is obtained from rubber plants and therefore, it is biodegradable.

According to a study on the biodegradation of erasers, erasers made from synthetic materials, such as vinyl and fiberglass are non-biodegradable.

Vinyl and fiberglass are non-organic compounds and therefore not susceptible to microbial degradation.

Are erasers recyclable?

Yes, erasers are recyclable.

Eraser materials such as vinyl, fiberglass, and graphite can be taken to recycling industries and recycled.

The recyclability of these materials makes erasers eco-friendly.

Erasers are non-toxic to the environment.

This is because their constituent materials are recyclable.


This article has answered the question, “is eraser biodegradable?”.

In addition, other areas have been covered. They include the following:

  • Types of rubbers.
  • Uses of different types of rubbers.
  • Types of erasers.
  • Biodegradation of erasers.

For any questions or comments, please use the comment section below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): is eraser biodegradable?.

Is eraser biodegradable?

Yes, some erasers are biodegradable, while others are not.

Erasers made from natural products such as latex are biodegradable.

Erasers made from synthetic materials such as vinyl plastic are not biodegradable.

Are erasers environmentally friendly?

Yes, erasers are environmentally friendly because they are made from recyclable materials.

Materials such as vinyl, rubber, and graphite can be recycled and put to another use.

However, since most rubbers are made from synthetic plastics, disposing of them recklessly into the environment could lead to environmental toxicity since plastics are non-biodegradable.

What is the difference between an eraser and a rubber?

An eraser is a substance that is used to remove marks on a piece of paper or skin while rubber is a natural or synthetic material derived from latex or petroleum plastics.


Jessie Oleson Moore. The 5 Types OF Erasers Every Artist Should Know.

Retrieved from:

Matt Fussell. Different Types of Erasers.

Retrieved from:

Hosler, D.; Burkett, S.L.; Tarkanian, M.J. (1999). “Prehistoric polymers: Rubber processing in ancient Mesoamerica”. Science. 284 (5422): 1988–1991. doi:10.1126/science.284.5422.1988. 

Leave a Comment