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How Many Myths about Biodegradable Plastics Have You Caught?

May. 11, 2020

It is an unavoidable problem to solve plastic pollution at once. At present, domestic policies seem to be pinning their hopes on biodegradable plastics. Public opinion once overwhelmingly cheered the material.

However, biodegradable grocery bags can really completely biodegradable?

What do you know about biodegradable materials?


Myth 1: biodegradable plastics can degrade and disappear in soil and air

Biodegradable plastics need a combination of temperature, humidity, and microbes to fully degrade, producing substances such as carbon dioxide and water that are harmless to the environment. Without classified recycling, biodegradable plastics entering the environment will cause environmental hazards, which are not much different from those caused by ordinary disposable plastics.


Myth 2: biodegradable plastics can be composted at home

Compostable bags are a type of biodegradable plastic. A certain amount of fungi and bacteria can be provided in the common household composting environment, but the temperature cannot reach the conditions of industrial composting, which will greatly reduce the degradation performance of biodegradable plastics. Therefore, only some of the compostable plastics that have been approved for home composting can be composted at home.

At present, there is no domestic composting standard and certification in China. Some of the plastic products marked as HOME composting on the market have passed the OK Compost HOME certification from TUV AUSTRIA, the Austrian certification agency, and have obtained the corresponding certification mark. The product can be degraded at a temperature of 20-30℃ for up to 12 months. The OK Compost HOME certification is based on Australian AS 5810, French NF T 51800, and EU EN 17427.

Certification mark for home composting provided by TUV AUSTRIA, the Austrian certification agency

Compostable Bags

Compostable Bags


Myth 3: biodegradable plastics should be thrown into waste bins in garbage sorting

Ideally, biodegradable plastics should be separated into separate categories for recycling, followed by concentrated industrial composting to ensure the smooth and complete degradation of biodegradable plastics and to minimize damage to the environment. There are no clear rules on whether biodegradable plastics should be separated into separate recycling bins or thrown into the waste bins to be disposed of with the waste.

Which bin to throw away biodegradable plastic? Photo | Sohu news


Myth 4: biodegradable plastics are made from plants

There are two sources of biodegradable plastics. One is a biological base, such as directly derived from biomass, such as a mixture of potato and corn starch. But there are also materials that come from fossil bases. Currently, about 24 percent of the compostable plastics on the market are fossil-based plastics.

The "life" of biodegradable plastics seems to be a cycle, but how to classify such plastics into compost in real life remains a challenge.


Myth 5: biodegradable plastics are suitable for all kinds of disposable products

At present, the final disposal of biodegradable plastics needs to be degraded in a special composting environment, so it is more suitable for application in food contact and agricultural works, such as food packaging, agricultural film, disposable tableware, etc., so as to facilitate recycling and composting and reduce the possibility of affecting the quality of compost.


Myth 6: biodegradable plastics are healthier and safer than ordinary plastics

Biodegradable plastics and ordinary plastics contain added chemicals such as plasticizers. In addition, there are some safety risks of biodegradable plastics that are not found in ordinary plastics. For example, the use of high polymer hot melt adhesive in the production of plant fiber tableware, the residues of chemical substances, and the control of plant pesticide content are all worthy of our attention.


Myth 7: biodegradable plastics are easy to distinguish from ordinary plastics

There is no mandatory uniform labeling of biodegradable plastics in the country for the time being, and the current labeling is difficult to identify in terms of appearance, so you should be more careful in the selection of products.

To solve the problem of plastic pollution, we need to start with ourselves. Reducing the consumption of single-use plastic (whether it is so-called biodegradable plastic or not), such as bringing reusable containers, supporting tableware, and reusable business models is the ultimate sustainable solution.








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