Biodegradation is the process by which organic substances are broken down by living organisms. The term is often used in relation to ecology, waste management, environmental remediation (bioremediation) and to plastic materials, due to their long life span. Organic material can be degraded aerobically, with oxygen, or anaerobically, without oxygen. A term related to biodegradation is biomineralisation, in which organic matter is converted into minerals.
Biodegradable matter is generally organic material such as plant and animal matter and other substances originating from living organisms, or artificial materials that are similar enough to plant and animal matter to be put to use by microorganisms.
Biodegradable plastics made with plastarch material (PSM), and polylactide (PLA) will compost in an industrial compost facility. There are other plastic materials that claim biodegradability, but are more often (and possibly more accurately) described as 'degradable' or oxi-degradable; It is claimed that this process causes more rapid breakdown of the plastic materials into CO2 and H2O.