What is Biodegradability ?
Biodegradability refers to the ability of a substance or material to be broken down naturally by living organisms, such as bacteria and fungi, into simpler, non-toxic substances. This process occurs through a series of chemical reactions that result in the conversion of complex organic compounds into simpler forms, such as carbon dioxide, water, and biomass. A substance that is biodegradable can be broken down into these simpler forms within a relatively short period of time, usually a few months to a few years, depending on the specific conditions and the nature of the substance. Biodegradability is an important characteristic of many materials, particularly those used in packaging and other disposable products, as it can help to reduce waste and environmental pollution.
Tin Can & Biodegradability
When it comes to tin cans, the material itself is biodegradable. Tin is a naturally occurring metal that can be found in rocks and soil. Tin cans, however, are not entirely made of tin. They are often coated with a thin layer of plastic to prevent rusting. This plastic coating can cause problems when it comes to biodegradability.
Plastic is a material that is not biodegradable. It can take hundreds of years for plastic to break down in the environment, and even then, it does not fully decompose. Instead, it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, which can then be ingested by animals and even end up in our food chain. This is why plastic pollution is such a big problem and why finding biodegradable alternatives to plastic is so important.
Now, let’s talk about why rusting is one of the major properties of tin cans. Tin cans are made of steel, which is an alloy of iron and carbon. When iron is exposed to oxygen and moisture, it rusts. This is why tin cans are coated with a thin layer of tin, which prevents the steel from coming into contact with oxygen and moisture. However, over time, the tin coating can wear away, exposing the steel underneath and causing it to rust.
While rusting can be a problem for tin cans, it is also what makes them biodegradable. Rust is a natural process that breaks down steel into iron oxide, which can then be broken down further by microorganisms in the environment. This is why tin cans, even when coated with a thin layer of plastic, are still considered to be biodegradable.