Campus News

Director of New Materials Institute discusses meaning behind ‘biodegradable’

Jason Locklin is the director of UGA’s New Materials Institute. (Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

Jason Locklin, the director of the New Materials Institute and a professor in the School of Chemical, Materials, and Biomedical Engineering, was recently quoted in a New York Times story about the true meaning of “biodegradable.”

Locklin said that with regard to “biodegradable” or “compostable” products, that type of label could simply mean that the products only degrade with certain conditions. This can make recycling more complex than it needs to be.

“It’s tremendously confusing, not just to the consumer, but even to many scientists,” he said.

The story examines four examples of products that might not be much better concerning compostability: corn-based plastic, paper, fiber and polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA).