Which among glass, plastic and polythene is biodegradable? 

The article will discuss and elaborate on which among glass, plastic, and polythene is biodegradable while also shedding light on aspects such as composting, recycling, eco-friendliness, and decomposition time. 

Which among glass, plastic and polythene is biodegradable?

None among glass, polythene, and plastic is biodegradable. The reason is that all three are made from either non-natural or non-organic material which can not be broken down by the action of microbes. 

Biodegradation can be defined as the degradation that is caused by microbes (hence the name bio) so that waste may be converted into simpler material that can become a part of nature again. 

However, biodegradation does require natural and organic material that the microbes can depend on and ingest so that they may break it down. As it turns out, all the three materials mentioned do not contain organic inside that the microbes can feast and degrade. 

Which among glass, plastic and polythene is degradable?

It may appear that the section is a repetition of the last section. However, it is not. There is a subtle yet significant difference between biodegradation and degradation. 

Although both terms imply the breakdown, the modes and stages of each are entirely different. It has been discussed what biodegradation is (degradation caused by bio) and therefore, let us rummage on the introduction to what degradation is. 

Degradation is also the breakdown but it is caused not by life but by external factors such as external pressure, temperature, forces of nature and chemicals. 

As it turns out, both plastics (including polythene) and glass can be broken down and degraded. In fact, it must be mentioned here that the degradation of plastics into microplastics is quite an issue for all of us as these microplastics are present everywhere around us and cause all sorts of havoc and environmental unrest that include pollution, habitat destruction, and loss of life. 

Which among glass, plastic and polythene is eco-friendly? (3 reasons why glass is better than plastics) 

The question can be answered through two frames. One is a comparative frame in which a comparison may be drawn and the final verdict may be given while the other is the superlative or absolute frame where the sustainability of both materials may be viewed objectively rather than subjectively. 

When it comes to the comparative frame, it can be said that glass is more sustainable and eco-friendly as compared to plastic. The verdict is given based on the following points:

  • Glass is made from abundant, natural sources whereas plastics are made from non-renewable resources
  • Glass is easier to be recycled as it can be recycled multiple times while in the case of plastics recycling is not that feasible
  • Glass can be used for a long duration of time. You must remember the old jars that are used in your homes to store old material. Whereas more than 40% of the plastics are intended for single use only

However, when it comes to the objective frame, it needs to be said that none of the asked materials is eco-friendly. The main reasons include:

  • Glass, plastic (and polythene) are not biodegradable and hence will contribute to the waste problem 
  • Glass, plastic (and polythene) can not be composted because there is no organic content
  • Glass, plastic (and polythene) require energy for their production which is sourced from non-renewable resources
  • Glass, plastic (and polythene) contribute to environmental anomalies such as global warming, pollution, deforestation, and ozone depletion– to name a few 
  • Glass, plastic (and polythene) contribute to the depletion of resources (non-renewable in the case of plastics) and this is hazardous for nature, life, and the planet 

Which among glass, plastic and polythene is compostable?

It is not possible to compost glass because glass & plastic are inorganic in nature. The main idea behind composting is to utilise the organic waste so that the result may be used as a fertiliser to improve the organic content of the soil to achieve the benefits such as water conservation, better production, and increased yield. 

However, in the case of glass and plastics (including polythene), there is no organic inside that can be harnessed to achieve the said advantages and therefore, it can be said that it is not possible to compost glass, plastic and polythene. 

Which among glass, plastic and polythene can be recycled?

When it comes to recycling, it is seen that both glass and plastics can be recycled. However, if we were to compare, then the recycling of glass is considered better and more feasible than that of plastics because of the fact that glass can be recycled endlessly. 

However, there is one catch here as well. Not all glass can be recycled. Take a mirror for example. A mirror is glass with a reflective coating and can not be recycled owing to the complications it stems for the recycling process. 

However, to recycle glass or plastic you may either use recycling bins or contact the local recycling centres and facilities for drop-off or pickup. 

Which among glass, plastic and polythene take longer to decompose?

It has been stated that glass and plastic are not biodegradable. Therefore, let us compare both of them and see which takes longer. After all, both glass and plastic (including polythene) do decompose but only after a long span of time. 

When it comes to that, it can be said that glass takes longer because glass usually decomposes in about 4,000 years or more while in the case of plastics, the duration is about 1,000 years (maximum). 

Therefore, in terms of the degradation time, plastics do take the win as compared to glass. However, this does not mean that we can be oblivious to the microplastic problem curated by the degradation of plastics. 

Conclusion

It is concluded that none among glass, plastic and polythene is biodegradable because all three are inorganic and non-natural (in the case of plastics) and that is why the microbes can not ingest them. 

The article also discussed and gave a verdict on the recycling, composting and disposal options for glass and plastics (and polythene). A comparison was made in terms of sustainability and glass proved to be more eco-friendly as compared to plastics. 

References

  • Bulkeley, H., & Askins, K. (2009). Waste interfaces: biodegradable waste, municipal policy and everyday practice. Geographical Journal, 175(4), 251-260.
  • Bharadwaj, A., Yadav, D., & Varshney, S. (2015). Non-biodegradable waste–its impact & safe disposal. Int. J. Adv. Technol. Eng. Sci, 3(1).
  • (November 01, 2022). Biodegradable and Non-biodegradable. Retrieved from: https://www.geeksforgeeks.org/biodegradable-and-non-biodegradable/
  • Civetti, Amy. (March 04, 2015). Why is glass better than plastic? Retrieved from: https://www.usgbc.org/articles/why-glass-better-plastic

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