Are Airsoft BBS Biodegradable? (Depends…)

Daily, it becomes easier to make an environmentally friendly consumer decision. Whether to buy biodegradable cat litter or a toothbrush made from plastic, you have options. 

An item that isn’t biodegradable will be a burden to the environment. It leaves toxic effects that are endless in some cases, i.e., plastic pollution. Don’t get it twisted – you should enjoy your desired activities, whether for work or leisure, but it is up to you to ensure they don’t leave a permanent mark on the ecosystem. 

Are there biodegradable airsoft BBs? These balls are indispensable for shooting practice or recreation, and you will use a lot of them in your lifetime. So, can you choose an environmentally sustainable and friendly product? More importantly, are airsoft BBs biodegradable? Keep reading, and you will find the answer! 

What are Airsoft BBs Made of? 

Modern airsoft BBs are made of polylactic acid plastic, but conventional ones come from petroleum-based plastic. The sustainable form of airsoft BBs are bioplastic products which mean they are made from plant matter. Polylactic acid may sound like another synthetic plastic polymer, but what it really is is a composition of lactic acid building blocks. 

Bioactive polyester is a plastic-type made from plants or organic matter. This is what airsoft BBs are classified as. But more specifically, airsoft ammo is made from polylactic acid or PLA. 

PLA was invented in 1932 by Wallace Carothers, an American chemist, and inventor. He discovered this substance during an attempt to separate condensed water from lactic acid using a vacuum. 

However, airsoft BBs weren’t the immediate products made from this compound. Instead, it was more popular in the health industry because of its biodegradability. Perhaps that is what makes it ideal for an activity like target practice.

With time, manufacturers realized that there was an array of production activities PLA could be used for, including making airsoft BBs for consumers who love the shooting range.

In target practice, the best shooting materials are those that decompose naturally. This saves you the stress of cleaning up when you finish up. 

If you leave the airsoft BBs on the ground, nothing will happen to the environment because they are essentially lactic acid. You only need sour milk to make lactic acid, but it is still a bioproduct.

Airsoft BBs are between the sizes of 6mm to 8mm in diameter. Each ball weighs between 0.12 grams to 0.40 grams. There are different available weights for various shooting styles and practices, so you must choose the one that best suits your desired activities. 

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Are Airsoft BBS Biodegradable? 

It depends on what the product Airsoft BBS is made from. If it is petroleum-based, it will not break down. But when it is made from polylactic acid or PLA, a by-product of milk, animals, or plants, it is organic waste. This will biodegrade. PLA also comes from plant products like cassava, corn, and sugar beet pulp. 

Bioplastics may be the savior of the consumer and manufacturing world as we know it. They are biodegradable plastics, which are a welcome deviation from the norm. We could provide endless details about how plastics destroy the environment, but you can find the information anywhere and everywhere. 

Since the mid-1970s, the dangers of plastics have been on the rise. Our consumption continues to grow beyond reasonable measure, and destructive items like single-use plastic have entered the scene. 

Single-use plastics are the bane of environmental safety. They affect every aspect of biodiversity, including man. 

Plastic pollution is also a danger we want to avoid, even though the problem has been around for over fifty years. It wreaks havoc on humans, and aspects of the environment, including the oceans. 

Fish ingest up to 12,000 tons of plastic yearly; it kills them by blocking their intestines, and when they die, other fish eat them. The danger is transferred in the process, and before you know it, the plastic is done more harm than all the useful applications it was designed for. 

Plastics are among the highest consumed manufactured materials worldwide. A significant portion of our petroleum or crude oil resources is dedicated to manufacturing plastic, one of the most dangerous materials on earth. 

Therefore, when there is a deviation from this consumption style, it is a saving grace for the ecosystem. 

Airsoft BBs are biodegradable because they are made from milk. They also lack synthetic additives like polymers or toxic poisons that will affect the environment during biodegradation.

PLA can break down anywhere because it is a part of the ecosystem.  

How Long Do Airsoft BBs Take to Biodegrade? 

There are different opinions about how long it takes for airsoft BBs to biodegrade. It depends on the environment; it will break down faster in higher temperatures, ranging between 55°C to 70°C. Other factors that determine how fast this material will break down include the activities of microbes in the area, additional additives in the airsoft BBs, access to UV radiation, and aeration within the water. 

One thing is clear about how long it takes PLA to biodegrade. It will undoubtedly break down before conventional plastic, which may take up to five hundred years. 

This is why PLA was created – to reduce the environmental impacts of the production materials like plastics; they don’t break down fast, and worse yet, they release harmful chemicals into the environment. 

There is a difference between PLA and plastic if you don’t already know. Airsoft BBs are made from polylactic acid, a natural substance derived from items like corn, sugarcane, and even milk. 

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Many controversies exist about how long this material will take to break down, but it depends on where the decomposition is taking place in the environment. 

PLA is hygroscopic, which means it will absorb water. When this happens, the fibers become weaker, and they may not break down at a fast rate, but decomposition will eventually happen. It will be even speedier if the factors we mentioned earlier are present in the water. 

In landfills or somewhere in the practice range area, an airsoft BB will only break down fast if exposed to a high temperature. Under normal room temperature, PLA will decompose slowly. 

Suffice it to say that airsoft BBs may not break down as fast as desired, but even they will not harm the environment in the process. They will not release any toxic substances while decomposing. But even better, the world will not be left with micro- and nano-plastics at the end of its lifecycle. 

airsoft-gun-and-bbs

Are Biodegradable Airsoft BBs Toxic? 

No, airsoft BBs are not toxic. Airsoft BBs are made from plant and animal matter and require no synthetic additives. Therefore, they are all-natural and a hundred percent biodegradable, as intended. 

Airsoft BBs are made from a material that will break down in water or on land. The best part is that they have no adverse effect on the environment during decomposition. 

Chemicals and synthetic polymers are two primary substances that can change the toxicity level of material, and biodegradable airsoft BBs don’t contain them. 

If anything, PLA was designed to replace plastic because the latter substance is hazardous to the environment. Plastic polymers cannot break down entirely, but they leave microplastics behind when they decompose. 

Their decomposition process is also destructive because it emits dangerous toxins into the soil and atmosphere. These downsides are not common in biodegradable products like airsoft BBs. 

They will break down fast, but that is not even all. Since airsoft BBs are organic matter, they will leave nutrients behind for plants and the soil. In other words, airsoft BBs will break down into humus, a useful organic matter. 

Difference Between Biodegradable and Regular BBs? 

The difference between biodegradable BBs and regular BBs is the material the manufacturer has used in production. Biodegradable BBs are made from polylactic acid or PLA, a water-soluble plastic. In contrast, traditional BBs used to be made with copper or zinc. Other times, they are made from a plastic called acrylonitrile butadiene styrene. 

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene is a type of plastic that takes several decades to break down. The same applies to metals – metals and plastics don’t break down fast, and when they do, they leave particles behind. 

In the case of plastics, these particles are harmful and unwanted because they poison the ecosystem. Humans are not spared either – microplastics can find their way into the respiratory or digestive system through the air, food, or water we are exposed to. 

In addition to exposure to nano- and microplastics, plastics also leach toxic substances into the environment while breaking down. 

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In contrast, biodegradable BBs will not leave a trace! They will break down the same way a biodegradable item will. The result is always the same – humus for soil and plants to improve from. 

Petroleum-based products like regular BBs don’t break down. But polylactic acid was designed primarily with biodegradation in mind. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Biodegradable BBs? 

The advantages of airsoft BBs include their biodegradability, environmental friendliness, and consideration of wildlife and the ecosystem. However, the disadvantage is that it deteriorates fast; after opening it.

Advantages of Biodegradable BBs

They are Better for Wildlife

If you use biodegradable BBs, you are doing the right thing for many reasons. There are also upsides that you will enjoy, including the access to outdoor shooting ranges. This is because they break down within three months, unlike plastic-based BBs, which break down only after several decades.

Furthermore, if animals in your shooting range find and eat the leftover pellets, nothing will happen because biodegradable BBs are organic matter.

They have Better Environmental Impacts

Biodegradable BBs are better for the environment because they decompose fast. They are also made from natural and renewable resources, so we don’t expect our supply to dwindle anytime soon, as opposed to manufacturing petroleum-based products.

The process of manufacturing non-synthetic products is better for the environment than what goes down when producing items like plastic BBs. Chemicals will be added, energy will be burnt on a large scale, and many other environmental ills involved in production.

They have Better Disposal Options

Biodegradable BBs are also compostable, so you can put them in a compost pile. Or they will deteriorate fast in nature.

Disadvantages of Biodegradable BBs

They are slightly costlier

On the other hand, the downside of using biodegradable BBs is that they are more expensive, albeit by just a few dollars.

They Spoil Faster

Airsoft BBs that are biodegradable are more susceptible to water and oxygen damage, so you must use them as soon as possible after opening a pack. At most, you have three years before they become useless. 

They May Affect Your Equipment

Finally, biodegradable BBs have a different composition than non-biodegradable BBs. This is a blessing and a bane. It may also be a problem because of the impact the coating has on your gun over time.

Are Biodegradable BBs Bad for the Environment? 

No, biodegradable BBs are not bad for the environment. In contrast, they are better for the ecosystem than non-biodegradable options, especially those made from plastic. Biodegradable BBs break down, which means nature can recycle them naturally. 

They are also made from sustainable materials like plants and animal products. Therefore, manufacturing more will not negatively impact the environment. 

The biodegradation process does not harm the environment but replenishes it instead. 

Conclusion 

Biodegradable BBs are the way to go if you love your shooting games. The alternative harms the environment and calls for a conscious change. 

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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.