Biodegradable resources

Biodegradable materials organically break down into natural elements relatively quickly. These materials depend on microorganisms, UV light exposure and hydrolysis to naturally dissolve the original material into water, carbon dioxide, methane, biomass or other inorganic compounds.

Not all biodegradable materials can degrade in all environments. Depending on design, the materials may biodegrade more effectively in treatment plants while others may do better in soils. It is important to consider how these materials will be handled at end-of-life and whether they will end up in an environment that promotes biodegradability.

Note: Biodegradable materials are not the same as compostable, bio-based or renewable resources.


  • Biodegradable Products Institute
  • ISO 14855-1:2012 - Determination of the ultimate aerobic biodegradability of plastic materials under controlled composting conditions
  • ASTM D5338 - Standard Test Method for Determining Aerobic Biodegradation of Plastic Materials Under Controlled Composting Conditions, Incorporating Thermophilic Temperatures
  • ASTM D6868 - Standard Specification for Labeling of End Items that Incorporate Plastics and Polymers as Coatings or Additives with Paper and Other Substrates Designed to be Aerobically Composted in Municipal or Industrial Facilities
  • ASTM D7044 - Standard Specification for Biodegradable Fire Resistant Hydraulic Fluids
  • ASTM D8029 - Standard Specification for Biodegradable, Low Aquatic Toxicity Hydraulic Fluids