Biodegradable waste includes any organic matter in waste which can be broken down into carbon dioxide, water, methane or simple organic molecules by micro-organisms and other living things by composting, aerobic digestion, anaerobic digestion or similar processes. It mainly includes kitchen waste (spoiled food, trimmings, inedible parts), ash, soil, dung and other plant matter. In waste management, it also includes some inorganic materials which can be decomposed by bacteria. Such materials include gypsum and its products such as plasterboard and other simple sulfates which can be decomposed by sulfate reducing bacteria to yield hydrogen sulfide in anaerobic land-fill conditions.
In domestic waste collection, the scope of biodegradable waste may be narrowed to include only those degradable wastes capable of being handled in the local waste handling facilities.
Biodegradable waste when not handled properly can have an outsized impact on climate change, especially through methane emissions from anaerobic fermentation that produces landfill gas. Other approaches to reducing the impact include reducing the amount of waste produced, such as through reducing food waste.