Biodegradable materials

This concept is generally considered most suitable for short-life products such as packaging or disposable clothing, although there is a growing interest in designing with biodegradable materials for a wider range of applications.

In order to facilitate environmentally benign decomposition, biodegradable products must utilise materials such as organic fibres or biodegradable plastics and must not contain any toxic chemicals, while adhering to specific international standards for composting.

On a commercial scale, challenges include the general lack of suitable commercial waste management and composting facilities. Oat Shoes (1), have developed shoes made out of hemp, bio-cotton, biodegradable plastics and contain embedded wildflower seeds, which will grow into flowers following successful decomposition. They are also in talks with waste processors to set up a suitable infrastructure for biodegradable products.

Further reading

Image credit: Corriette Schoenaerts