What does "biodegradable" mean?

Generally speaking and in simplified terms, a biodegradable material decomposes or disintegrates in biological, i.e. natural processes within a reasonable period of time. When talking about the biodegradability of a material or a product, it is essential to provide additional information on the time span and the environmental conditions. Degradation can occur in various places, for example in the human body (surgical suture material), in the ocean or at its surface, on the beach or on the seabed, in the soil or on the field, in a biogas plant or in composting. Consequently, there are different kinds of test standards and associated certification systems which, for example, distinguish between industrial and domestic composting.