Today’s post aims to expose the “Myth of Biodegradability”
In the previous posts, we talked about how Bioplastics and Biodegradable plastics represents a ‘greener’ alternative as compared to traditional petroleum-based plastic compounds.Even though i’ve mentioned about how these bioplastics are biodegradable, the fact is that they often don’t.
1. The Myth of Bioplastics
Bioplastics that are made from polylactic acid (PLA), a polymer derived from plant sugars. PLA decompose to give water and carbon dioxide when its exposed to bacteria. However, PLA-based plastics require a controlled environment in order to break down. The bacteria that decompose the plastic can’t fulfill their function unless all oxygen is removed and temperatures reach at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius) for 10 consecutive days.
However, this condition can neither be met in landfills nor typical home-composting operation. Hence, PLA is likely to hang around for just as long as petroleum based plastic.
2. The Myth of Oxo-degradable Plastic
Oxodegradable plastics are petroleum based plastic that contains additives to facilitate degradation. Oxo-degradable plastics decomposes best in the oxygen rich environments provided by large industrial compositing tanks, equipment not found in typical landfills or backyards.
3. Can Degradable Plastics be Recycled?
Degradable plastics should not be thrown into the recycling bin because it is not recyclable and will in fact harm the quality of plastic made from recyclable material like soda bottles.
Overall, throwing away a Degradable plastic is just as bad as throwing away a plastic cup.