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Biodegradable plastics

Date: 22 January 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

As people are searching for alternatives  to plastics, many are trying out a new version known as biodegradable platic. The question arises, whether it is as safe as presumed.

 

Background

Plastic, in the form of bottles, bags, packaging materials, furniture and more, has become an integral part of our present-day lives. However, there are rising problems due to over-use of plastic which has caused a worldwide alarm. 

 

Details

  • Theoretically speaking, biodegradable means the material should break down into water, carbon dioxide and minerals. However, this is not the case with all plastics.

  • Also, many of the plastics that are bio-degradable, only degrade at very specific temperatures and also need optimal levels of light, water and oxygen for the same. And even then, they leave behind residues which are toxic for the environment.

  • Many of the plastics will not biodegrade naturally. Owing to the conditions required for their biodegradation, a lot of plastics will only get biodegraded at industrial facilities.

  • Many Bio-based plastics are known to not be biodegradable. However, they can be recycled, albeit partially. They have known to have similar structure to that of fossil fuel based plastics.

  • Every bio-based plastic does not deliver the same amount of pure recyclate streams. These streams are the amount of product that can be recycled to produce something new. 

  • Bio-based plastic and even biodegradable plastic while having their virtues, also come with their own set of flaws. As such, they cannot really be substitutes to plastic due to a lot of reasons.