A biodegradable material is a material which can be completely biodegraded by micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungi and algae – it will eventually break down into smaller and smaller pieces by natural processes. Eventually is the key word – there is no defined timescale for the process to take place. Depending on what the item is, it could take anything from 6 months to 1000 years to break down. This means that, technically, almost any product could be labelled ‘biodegradable’ because most things will break down at some point in the future whether they’re derived from nature, like a banana skin, or made from chemicals – even some conventional plastics will eventually break down in to smaller, sometimes toxic, components for example. So the term can be misleading and biodegradable materials are not necessarily compostable.