Biodegradation is defined by the EPA as, “A process by which microbial organisms transform or alter (through metabolic or enzymatic action) the structure of chemicals introduced into the environment.”
Organic (carbon-based) material is changed through chemical processes from complex molecules into simpler molecules, eventually returning the molecules into the environment. For example, a banana peel can be reduced from cellulose to water, carbon dioxide gas, and humus in a compost pile.
The biodegradation process breaks down everything from yard waste to crude oil. It is a natural process that keeps our planet clean and healthy. Unfortunately, the rate at which we are producing waste far outpaces the rate of natural biodegradation, leading to an unsustainable state. As landfills fill up at record rates, air, water and soil pollution is increasing.