Plants and Animals

Plants and Animals

Waste materials from plants and animals

Waste MaterialBoth animals and plants produce waste. Animals, for example, generally produce faeces on a daily basis while a lot of trees shed their leaves on an annual basis. Microorganisms play an important part in breaking down this waste material so that it can then be used again by plants. By recycling the same material stable communities are formed.

By the end of this section you should understand:

  • the importance of recycling organic kitchen and garden waste
  • why recycling schemes are so effective


Decay processes

In order for an organism to grow and develop it needs to take in certain substances from the environment in which it lives. However, certain processes produce waste materials that organisms need to get rid of.

Animals and plants also eventually die. Both waste materials and dead organisms return to the environment when they decay.



Waste MatierialsMicroorganisms are responsible for the decaying process. They are known as decomposers and the main groups are fungi and bacteria. They break down this matter by releasing enzymes. They do this so that they can absorb the broken down compounds to use as food.

There are three factors which can speed up the rate at which microorganisms can digest the broken down matter. A faster rate occurs if the conditions are:

  • warm
  • moist
  • aerobic (which refers to the amount of oxygen available)