Biodegradable materials are materials that undergo the biodegradation process which is the breakdown of organic matter by microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi. It is generally assumed to be a natural process, which differentiates it from composting. Composting is a human-driven process in which biodegradation occurs under a specific set of circumstances.
Biodegradable materials generally include wood, wool, cotton, animal waste or any other organic material which can be broken down into carbon dioxide, methane or any other simple organic molecules with the help of microorganisms.
As biodegradable materials break down naturally, they eventually decompose and are consumed by soil and other natural components. This natural process means no forced chemical reaction needs to take place to kickstart the process and less pollution will happen as a result. Additional advantages of biodegradable materials are:
- Reduction In carbon emissions
- Waste reduction
- Repurposing and recycling
- Reduced pollution
Biodegradable materials, and mainly plastics, find applications in several industries like consumer goods, packaging, textiles, agriculture and horticulture. The global biodegradable materials market was valued at $1.6 billion in 2019 is expected to reach $4.2 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 13.3% from 2020 to 2027.
Challenges in developing biodegradable materials
The challenges of developing environmentally-friendly plastics are the expense, sourcing of the proper biodegradable materials, and passing legislation that demands the eventual discard of manufacturing plastic.
MaterialsZone solution for biodegradable materials
To overcome the above mentioned challenges, things go back to the R&D department either for developing low cost materials or finding a substitute for one of the ingredients. Typically, designing or developing a materials-based specification (or even a variation of an existing one) comes with constraints on the materials to use, processing constraints, etc, which are commonly handled with trial-and-error methodology.
To avoid trial-and-error methodology and stick with a data-driven approach, MaterialsZone has developed an efficient workflow (figure 1) for biodegradable material development that will reduce your R&D efforts and significantly reduce the number of experiments and iterations needed to reach the desired biodegradable material.
Other MaterialsZone solutions include:
- Innovative Plastics
- Materials data management
- Design of experiment
- Materials development
- Formulations development
- Materials selection – supply chain
- Materials manufacturing QC (six-sigma)
- Digital materials/product catalog