Science: What exactly is biodegradable plastic?

Biodegradable plastics are plastics that can be broken down by microorganisms (bacteria or fungi) into water, carbon dioxide (CO2) and some bio-material. It is important to note that biodegradable plastics are not necessarily made from bio-material (i.e. plants). Several biodegradable plastics are made from oil in the same way as conventional plastics. If you’re in the habit of reading what supermarkets print on their plastic bags, you may have noticed a lot of environmentally friendly statements appearing over the last few years. Some stores now use what are described as photodegradableoxydegradable, or just biodegradable bags (in practice, whatever they’re called, it often means the same thing). As the name suggests, these biodegradable plastics contain additives that cause them to decay more rapidly in the presence of light and oxygen (moisture and heat help too). Unlike bioplastics, biodegradable plastics are made of normal (petrochemical) plastics and don’t always break down into harmless substances: sometimes they leave behind a toxic residue and that makes them generally (but not always) unsuitable for composting.


The Benefit of Biodegradable Plastic :

  • Biodegradable plastics take less time to break down

  • Biodegradable plastics are renewable

  • Biodegradable plastics are good for the environment

  • Biodegradable plastics require less energy to produce

  • Biodrgradable plastics are easier to recycle

  • Biodegradable plastics are not toxic

  • Biodegradable plastics reduce dependence on foreign oil

  • Carbon Emission Reduction

  • Consumes Less Energy

  • Less Landfill Area Needed

  • Reduced Demand for Fossil Fuels

  • Reduced Volume of Municipal Waste

To conclude, it is a mistake to focus on finding ways to make products easier to throw away in the name of helping the environment. Biodegradable plastics are exciting and useful materials, but they should only be used when they have a concrete benefit for a specific product. The best way to help save the planet is to save energy and improve ways of recycling and recovering all plastics.


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