Is melamine biodegradable?

This blog post will answer the question, “Is melamine biodegradable” and cover topics like the biodegradability of melamine and frequently asked questions related to the topic.

Is melamine biodegradable?

No, melamine is not biodegradable. Typically, plastics are reprocessed and shaped using heat. However, it is quite difficult to recycle melamine plates. They may be melted, but cannot be reformed.

What exactly is Melamine?

Melamine is a low-cost synthetic chemical that, when mixed with formaldehyde, produces melamine resin. This melamine formaldehyde resin is used in the production of melamine dinnerware, a hard plastic material.

Melamine has been known for quite some time! In 1834, a German scientist called Justus von Liebig unintentionally produced melamine in a laboratory; nevertheless, it wasn’t until the late 1940s that this cheap substance was used in the production of melamine products such as melamine tableware. 

Even more recently, worries regarding its safety as serve-ware have emerged.

Melamine: Does it Contain Plastic?

Melamine is a polymeric material. Melamine is not just the name of the aforementioned chemical component, but also the name of the plastic substance created from melamine.

How is melamine manufactured?

Melamine and formaldehyde are mixed and then heated to a solid state. Thus, melamine resins are formed. These substances are also referred to as thermoset plastic.

Melamine: Is It Superior to Other Plastics?

To answer the question, it is necessary to first identify what “better” means. Recyclability or durability?

The thermoset plastic melamine is permanently rigid. It cannot be reshaped or sculpted when heated.

Melamine plastic works well for dinnerware, laminate flooring, & dry erase boards due to its strength and durability. It is resistant to chipping and scratching.

While other polymers, such as thermoplastics, are more flexible, making them more suitable for plastic bags and containers. Because all plastic, whether thermoset or thermoplastic, is derived from fossil fuels, it is not biodegradable.

Similar to melamine, thermoset plastic is not recyclable. Unlike recyclable thermoplastics, thermosets cannot be recycled.

Is Melamine Biodegradable?

According to the Canadian Department of Environment and Climate Change, the chemical molecule melamine (C3H6N6) dissolves slowly or not at all.

It has a lengthy half-life in the atmosphere and biodegrades rather slowly in water and soil. In its plastic form, melamine is not biodegradable.

How Long Does Melamine Take to Biodegrade?

The rate of melamine biodegradation is dependent on the environment & soil. One research revealed that after 24 weeks in sandy clay loam soil, nitrification was only approximately 9 percent.

Melamine plastic, however, has an unsettling lifetime. It takes almost 500 years for a basic dinner plate composed of melamine and formaldehyde to break down in the environment.

Is Melamine Compostable?

Despite being a nitrogen-rich organic component, it is not suggested that melamine be added to compost as a chemical.

It is very hazardous in high quantities and also degrades extremely slowly. Melamine plastic is under no circumstances biodegradable.

Is Melamine Recyclable?

Melamine resin is a thermoset material that cannot be melted down & recycled. Melamine plastic goods should not be placed in recycling 


Melamine plastic items must be recycled or discarded. Melamine that is discarded ends up in landfills or the ocean.

How Should Melamine Be Disposed of?

Melamine is sometimes used as a filler in wood & plastic composites.

You may call your local recycling center or waste management agency to see whether or not they accept melamine plastic goods. They may assess disposal costs.

If your melamine dinnerware is still in good shape, you might consider donating it or reusing it.

Comparative Analysis Of The Three Tableware

The following comparison of plastic, bamboo, & melamine will make it easy for the user to choose the best material.

  • Plastic

We are aware that plastic is made of toxic chemicals and is not biodegradable. The potential of chemicals seeping into food implies that you must wash the item by hand unless it is dishwasher-safe, which is uncommon. 

Who has the patience? Plastic may be an inexpensive alternative, but it is very hazardous to the environment and human health.

  • Melamine plate

Melamine plates are plastic that is stiffer. It is not biodegradable, is constructed of harsh chemicals, and the problem of leaching poisons persists; it will still be around in 100 years, and you cannot put it in the dishwasher unless stated.

Melamine is the allure of plastic. The material’s stronger consistency enables it to be molded into ceramic-like plates and bowls. It has a gorgeous appearance yet is not fragile. 

However, it is still plastic in spirit and from a healthy & biodegradable perspective.

  • Bamboo 

BPA-free, Phthalate-free, and toxin-free, bamboo is a very adaptable and non-hazardous material. Additionally, it is very biodegradable and ecologically beneficial due to its natural composition. Therefore, it is the most user-friendly of the three and the ideal dinnerware to use.

Even Bamboo Melamine Tableware is now available in a variety of appealing textures, colors, and sizes. However, they are not oven safe, however, some are dishwasher safe when used properly.

Is Melamine Safe?

Melamine might potentially seep into food from serving containers, however, the risk is limited. The majority is consumed in the production process. 

After production, residual melamine may leach into foods and beverages that come into contact with it. This does not occur under regular conditions.

However, when acidic foods, like orange juice and tomatoes, are cooked for extended periods of time, melamine may migrate into the meal. 

Even when contamination does occur, it is at very low levels — around 250 times lower than the threshold the FDA deems safe for other foods.

Melamine is regarded as acceptable for serving and consuming food, although meals containing this ingredient should not be microwaved. You should only heat food in microwave-safe containers.

The FDA has conducted a safety & risk evaluation of melamine in order to determine the health risk associated with its exposure. It examined the scientific literature on melamine toxicity as well as animal research and found that this chemical may be used to serve food, but not in a microwave.

5 Substitutes for Melamine Tableware

Melamine plastic is used in a vast array of items, including countertops, fertilizers, and sponges.

Due to its recent popularity, we will concentrate on melamine tableware in our section on alternative materials.

  • Ceramic
  • Bamboo
  • Glassware
  • Wood
  • Copper

I will now elaborate on these.


Natural, conventional, and edible. Personality-filled handcrafted and hand-painted crockery is readily available. 

Etsy is home to a plethora of tiny, one-of-a-kind companies selling an array of inexpensive ceramic bowls, mugs, and plates:

Shop for ceramic dinnerware


As with the other choices outlined here, you should do your due research and seek out companies dedicated to sustainable and ethical business methods.

Shop for cutting boards, trays, & implements. You can even find biodegradable plates.

Purchase bamboo dinnerware


To provide your visitors with beverages, consider using recyclable glass. Glass is 100 percent recyclable, but so few of us actually recycle it.

You set the benchmark as a customer by increasing the demand for recycled glass.

Buy recyclable glassware


Wood may not be as resilient as melamine, but that is just the goal. It will deteriorate with time.

And you can be comfortable that your wooden utensils will not wind up in a landfill for the next five hundred years.

Shop wooden tableware


Durable, one-of-a-kind cookware, barware, and drinkware. Copper made entirely from recycled materials should be used wherever feasible.

Shop for copper cookware

Is melamine more environmentally friendly than bamboo?

No, bamboo is more eco-friendly than melamine plastic. Bamboo tableware is the most sustainable option.

However, bamboo dinnerware is neither sustainable nor ethical by nature. You should seek certified merchants committed to organic and fair trade sources.

Four Methods of Reusing Melamine Tableware

Since melamine is a non-biodegradable, non-compostable, non-recyclable plastic, it should not be discarded.

How can melamine tableware be recycled?

  • Donate your melamine dinnerware to a local charity or a college student.
  • Crafts — Give old, worn-out dishes new life with DIY crafts:
  • Instead of purchasing disposable plates for picnics, camping, and beach outings, you may utilize your old melamine plates. They are portable and lightweight.

Melamine: Is it toxic?

When consumed in significant quantities, melamine is detrimental to health, particularly the kidneys. It is prohibited to use melamine as a replacement for protein in food.

In 2008, this careless behavior and deceptive labeling led to a crisis involving baby sickness in China. So, what is the likelihood of melamine poisoning if you use melamine plastic tableware?

According to the FDA, this is very unlikely.

The US Food and Drug Agency has approved melamine plastic for use in plasticware and dinnerware. Despite the fact that melamine dinnerware is formed using high heat, a tiny amount of melamine often remains on plates, cups, buckets, forks, etc.

The issue, therefore, becomes whether or not trace levels of melamine may move to food. And can they be consumed?

Yes, the FDA’s safety tests determined that trace levels of melamine may move to food and be consumed, particularly when used with acidic foods and beverages.

But the quantity of melamine that got into your food is much too little to have an immediate effect on your health.

There have been few long-term impact investigations. According to the FDA, the quantity spilled into food is 250 times below the hazardous limit.

To use melamine dinnerware securely, please follow these instructions:

  • Food should never be heated in or on melamine.
  • Only reheat food in microwave-safe containers marked as such.
  • Do not serve acidic meals or beverages in or on plates made of melamine.


In this post we discussed biodegradability of melamine, substitues for melamine and environmental impacts of melamine.

Please feel free to comment on the content or ask any questions in the comments section below.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs), “Is melamine biodegradable?”

Is melamine safe for the environment?

Melamine is not environmentally friendly. Initially, a lot of chemicals are released into the atmosphere during production. It cannot be found in nature, thus it must be manufactured in a laboratory.

Is melamine a biodegradable plastic?

Melamine plates are not biodegradable due to their density. Typically, plastics are reprocessed and shaped using heat. However, it is quite difficult to recycle melamine plates. They may be melted, but cannot be reformed.

Which material is superior: plastic or melamine?

Melamine is the beautiful elder sister of plastic. It may be shaped into ceramic-like plates and bowls because of its tougher firmness. It seems to be fragile, yet it does not shatter. However, from a health and biodegradability standpoint, it is still plastic.

How long does it take for melamine to decompose?

Melamine plastic, however, has an unsettling lifetime. It takes almost 500 years for a basic dinner plate composed of melamine and formaldehyde to break down in the environment.

What are melamine’s disadvantages?

Adding melamine inflates the protein content. As this chemical is inexpensive and widely accessible, there is a financial incentive to use it in this way illegally. 

Kidney stones are the most prevalent health impact of melamine exposure in humans. Additionally, other forms of renal injury have been recorded.


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