Are Orbeez Biodegradable? Here’s What You Need to Know

By Tavish Archer
Edited On

Orbeez has always been a superb fit and fun for me, my family, and my friends— possibly the best eco-friendly option for recreational activities at home or outdoors.

“Jeremy, what causes you to be concerned? It’s not like we’re littering with plastic bags, straws, or anything—Orbeez seem to be safe! “ I tried to convince my science enthusiastic and environment-concerned friend as a bad salesman on an evening.

He looked absent-minded while playing the family game with the kids at our potluck party. I couldn’t read his mind, but just scrolling through his social media post: Orbeez take a decade to biodegrade- reality or myth!”.

“Yes, absolutely okay”, he replied.

“You’re overthinking, mate!” I wanted to help him out!

To decode the answer, I experimented with Orbeez balls for many years, scanned multiple sources and even questioned other experts to find out whether Orbeez beads are environment-friendly, biodegradable, and decomposable. But to understand that, we first need to know what they are made of.

Are Orbeez biodegradable

What Are Orbeez Made Of?

Orbeez beads are basically made of superabsorbent polymers (SAP) with hydrophilic properties, meaning that they absorb water. These polymer pellets can be inflated up to 100 times after soaking up water.

Orbeez polymers have chain-like connections of sodium polyacrylate, long-chained molecules made of several tiny, repeating patterns with the chemical formula of [−CH2−CH(CO2Na)−]n. It forms from the major polymer ingredients like-

Acrylic acid

Sodium Hydroxide

Polyvinyl Alcohol

Color pigments


When dry, Orbeez are just small, hard pellets. However, when they come into contact with water, they rapidly absorb it and swell up into small, soft, and squishy water beads that are fun to play with. People of all ages enjoy playing with Orbeez as a sensory toy, for stress relief, toy gun ammunition, or as a decorative item in vases or other displays.

Also Read: How To Grow Orbeez?

Are Orbeez Really Biodegradable? Here Is The Truth

I can’t ignore the orbeez-obsessed kids or youngsters; even parents often join them for fun. So what happens when they appear useless and stop functioning?

For many of us, the first fact that comes to mind is to throw them away. But do we ever consider what follows this? Will they biodegrade? Or do they linger there for a considerable amount of time?

Thanks to Jeremy, I have an answer today. Yes, Orbeez are 100% biodegradable. These gel beads indeed have a long disintegration period, fueling concern among users and activists. But, that doesn’t flag a green signal to use and throw away indiscriminately.

Sodium polyacrylate, the primary material of Orbeez, is biodegradable in soil and water under certain conditions. When exposed to microorganisms and moisture, the polymer can break down into carbon dioxide, water, and natural minerals. However, it’s important to note that the biodegradability of Orbeez may vary depending on the specific product and the environmental conditions they are exposed to.

How Long Does It Take For Orbeez Balls To Biodegrade?

Depending on several external factors like weather, temperature and moisture, hydrated Orbeez remain in good condition for a few days to months for recreational activities but may take from a few years to a decade to biodegrade in the soil. Experts opine the period could be 1-10 years, depending on the above factors. If you use these water beads in a lawn or garden, you should know that they will remain there for one or half-decade.

Are Orbeez Environment-friendly?

The environmental friendliness of Orbeez can be a bit complicated. Superabsorbent polymers/ Orbeez were first introduced for agricultural usage in the 1980s and never observed to have any adverse effects on the environment.

Despite being biodegradable, it’s still important to dispose them of properly to prevent from potentially causing harm to the environment. For example, if Orbeez are not thrown away in the trash and end up in waterways, they could potentially harm wildlife by blocking their digestive systems or altering the chemical composition of the water.

Additionally, if Orbeez are flushed down the toilet, they could potentially clog pipes or cause other plumbing issues.

Learn More: Are Gel Blasters Safe For The Environment?

Can You Recycle Or Reuse Orbeez?

No, although Orbeez are biodegradable, they cannot be recycled as their main constituent sodium polyacrylate is not a recyclable material. However, they can be reused several times before they start to lose their effectiveness.

You can simply let Orbeez dry out completely and store them in a dry container until you are ready to use them again. By reusing water beads, you can help reduce waste and minimize their impact on the environment. In my case, I reuse Orbeez in my garden planters- one of the safest ways.

Used Orbeez on garden pot

Are Orbeez Compostable?

While Orbeez are biodegradable and can break down into natural minerals, water, and carbon dioxide under certain conditions, they are not recommended for composting.

Composting requires a specific balance of organic materials, such as food scraps and yard waste, that can decompose into nutrient-rich soil. Orbeez, on the other hand, are made from a water-absorbing polymer called sodium polyacrylate, which is not an organic material. As such, they should not be added to a compost pile.

Can You Dispose Of Orbeez Sustainably?

Yes, you can dispose of Orbeez sustainably by following the manufacturer’s recommendations for proper disposal. The most sustainable way to dispose of used Orbeez is to throw them in the trash, as they will biodegrade in a landfill over time.

However, to minimize their impact on the environment, you can take a few extra steps when disposing them of. Here are some tips for sustainable Orbeez disposal:

  • Let them dry out completely: Before disposing of Orbeez, allow them to dry and shrink completely. This will reduce their weight and make them less likely to cause issues in the trash or landfill.
  • Dispose of them in a sealed bag: To prevent Orbeez from spilling out of the trash and littering the environment, put them in a sealed bag before throwing them away.
  • Consider reusing them: Orbeez can be reused several times before they start to lose their effectiveness. By reusing them, you can help reduce waste and minimize their impact on the environment.
  • Use alternatives: If you are concerned about the environmental impact of Orbeez, you may want to consider using natural materials such as sand, dirt, or stones for sensory play. These materials are sustainable and can be recycled back into the soil.

The Conclusion

Orbeez, water beads, gel balls, splatter balls- whatever you call them- are indeed biodegradable and made from a non-toxic polymer called sodium polyacrylate. When disposed of properly, they can break down into natural minerals, water, and carbon dioxide over time.

While Orbeez may not be suitable for composting due to their composition, they are a safe and eco-friendly option for sensory play when used and disposed of responsibly. By following these guidelines, we can ensure that Orbeez remain a fun and sustainable recreational toy for years to come.

Tavish Archer

Tavish Archer

Tavish Archer is a Recreational Gamer, Author, and Co-Founder of ThrilloGaming. He holds a degree in Sports Management from Mississippi College (MC), Unites States. His experience and proficiency in the field allow him to provide winning strategies, creative ideas, and expert advice.

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