Degradable products are often oil-based, and they break down via chemical reactions rather than organically. Unlike biodegradable items, degradable plastics will decompose in anaerobic environments (without oxygen), such as landfills.

However, they will not deteriorate completely, they break up into microscopic bits that may still affect the environment, for example; wildlife could ingest these pieces causing catastrophic issues within the food chain. Products typically take a great deal longer to degrade than biodegradable or compostable items do, to break down.

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