Is Bamboo biodegradable
Yes, it is by the very definition of “biodegradable”.
Let’s take a closer look at this not so black and white question. Let’s begin with Webster’s definition of biodegradable—“Capable of being broken down especially into innocuous products by the action of living things (as microorganisms).”
However, in looking at the FTC’s definition it becomes readily evident that they have placed much emphasis on the “materials breaking down in a reasonably short period of time after *customary disposal*”.The operative phrase being “customary disposal” (better known as landfills in the U.S.). The FTC states that viscose from bamboo does not meet the criteria for a biodegradable product.
It doesn’t take much research to learn that today’s modern landfills are designed (by law) to keep out air, moisture, and sunlight. This is done intentionally…as it prevents pollutants from getting into our air and drinking water. This does not bode well for decomposition rates. Enter one Dr. William Rathje…author of the book “Rubbish”, an Archeologist, and Harvard Ph.D. Dr. Rathje began a garbage project while teaching at the University of Arizona. His ambitious project included the excavation of 15 landfills across North America. To quote from Dr. Rathje’s book…”They are not vast composters: rather they are vast mummifiers.”
According to the QLPA (Queensland Litter Prevention Alliance), the decomposition time for a banana skin is 3 to 4 weeks. The decomposition time for a paper bag is 1 month. Is a banana peel biodegradable? Is a piece of paper or a head of lettuce biodegradable? This is where it gets interesting—I submit too you that nothing is biodegradable! That’s right, I said it. What am I talking about you ask? Well, remember that according to the FTC…the material must break down in a reasonably short period of time, after customary disposal (meaning the landfill). The missing part of the equation—Dr. Rathje discovered that our landfills (mummifiers) just didn’t allow for the decomposition of much of anything. He found 40 year old newspapers that were still legible. He found a head of lettuce that was 5 years old amongst numerous other “biodegradable” items! The point here is that the FTC seems to be using our landfill decomposition rates as the main qualifier for whether or not bamboo viscose is biodegradable or not.
Additionally, the FTC has designated that companies advertising bamboo products as biodegradable are intentionally misleading the public. I say…”what are the FTC’s motivations here?” Shouldn’t our government be focusing on the real problem…why our landfills are not working in an environmentally friendly manner and the production of biodegradable items no longer serves a purpose since they cannot technically decompose. Whether it’s our Bamboo Sheets, Bamboo Bath Towels, Bamboo Shirts or Organic Bamboo Baby Clothes and accessories, they are all 100% biodegradable, unless of course they are packed into a U.S. landfill. So, Bamboo viscose is biodegradable providing it is composted and not put into landfills.