Natural fur biodegrades rapidly even in landfill conditions without oxygen as opposed to fake fur which does not biodegrade at all, a new study shows.
Ghent- Belgium, Experts from the Organic Waste Systems laboratory in Ghent, Belgium, examined how real and fake fur degrade in conditions set up to mimic closed landfill conditions, so-called anaerobic biodegradation. According to the laboratory test, the natural fur samples biodegraded over time as microorganisms such as bacteria were consuming the carbon inside the fur. The fake fur samples showed no signs of biodegradation. “We assessed the biodegradation of natural fur and fake fur, which is a conventional plastic. It allows us to see what their impact is on the environment. As expected the bacteria were able to consume the real fur, so there is biodegradation. On the contrary the bacteria were not able to consume the fake fur. In practice it means that when the fake fur reaches the landfill it will just sit there,” says Lies Debeer, researcher at Organic Waste Systems.
Commenting on the report’s findings Mette Lykke Nielsen, CEO of Fur Europe, said: “Environmental performance is a key objective for Fur Europe, and for anyone who thinks it is important to preserve the ecosystem that accommodates both animals and humans, it is logical to choose natural fibres over synthetic fibres. Choosing natural fur is a choice in favour of a sustainable planet.” The test report also looked at the average biodegradation of a number of natural products and found that real fur degrades at the same rate as an oak or willow tree leaf. The fake fur, however, showed no biodegradation, which according to the researchers was not unexpected due to the composition of the synthetic fibres. While these cannot biodegrade, over time they will break into smaller pieces, eventually forming microplastic fibres – a contributor to plastic pollution. The International Fur Federation and Fur Europe commissioned the lab test. It is a part of a large scientific review of the fur sector’s environmental performance.