Biodegradable products may be doing more harm than good, study finds
Products advertised as biodegradable may be doing harm than good to the environment, a new study finds.
May 31st, 2011
01:35 PM ET

Biodegradable products may be doing more harm than good, study finds

North Carolina researchers say products that are advertised as biodegradable are likely doing more damage to the environment in landfills than regular products.

Microorganisms break down biodegradable items, a process that produces methane which is a greenhouse gas when released into the atmosphere, according to Morton Barlaz, the head of North Carolina State Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering. He co-authored a recently published paper detailing the unexpected findings.

The Environmental Protection Agency reports that while most city solid waste landfills convert that methane for energy or burn the methane off-site, at least 35 percent of landfills allow the methane to escape, according to the paper.

Federal Trade Commission guidelines advise that products marked as "biodegradable" to decompose within "a reasonably short period of time" after disposal. Federal regulations don't require landfills to collect methane for at least two years from the time the materials have been dumped, according to researchers.

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soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Bob 2

    Shhhhhhhhhhiiiiiiiittttttttt on my fffffffffaaaaaaaccccccceeeeeee Eliis!

    May 31, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. fernace

    Touche' Bob 2! BTW how ya like it?

    May 31, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. leeintulsa

    Too bad we don't have a spray that makes refuse disappear

    May 31, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ellis

    Bob 2 is gay 2

    June 1, 2011 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  5. Ellis

    In my opinion, plastic bags should be outlawed. I mean those bags used in grocery stores. Why? Because they are not biodegradable. It can take up to 20 years for them to degrade. Let's think about it. After all, it is our children's future environment.

    June 1, 2011 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      According to this, biodegradable is bad, m'kay? It's like if the whole world farted at once, m'kay?

      June 1, 2011 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
  6. Ellis

    The whole world?

    June 1, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. countryboy

    Oh these comments are soo great. http://WWW.CDBABY.COM/ALL/NUMONE bye now.

    June 1, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jim

    IIt's a little late, but for anyone interested I'm one of the authors of the study and I have a more detailed review of the research on my blog (

    June 8, 2011 at 7:57 am | Report abuse |
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