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Biodegradable Plastics: A Concept that Needs to Be Correctly Understood (Part 1)

May. 18, 2020

The emergence of biodegradable bags is regarded as a weapon to deal with the pollution of plastics, especially the environmental pollution of plastic food contact materials such as disposable straws. "Automatically disappear without treatment" is a general public perception or expectation of biodegradable plastics.

The biodegradable bag supplier believes that the role of biodegradable plastics in the treatment of plastic pollution has been controversial. In addition to the impact, the unclear and confusing concept of biodegradable plastics by the public and industry is also an important reason, which leads to misuse, abuse of biodegradable logos, and even false propaganda. Some typical misunderstandings include:

Identify bio-based plastics as biodegradable plastics;

Treat degradable as completely biodegradable;

Biodegradation under industrial composting conditions is considered to be biodegradable in the natural environment.

Biodegradable Bags

Biodegradable Bags


Is bio-based plastic biodegradable plastic?

Not necessarily! Some bio-based plastics are biodegradable plastics, and some are not.

Biobased plastics refer to plastics produced under the action of microorganisms based on natural substances such as starch. Biomass used in the synthesis of bio-based plastics can be derived from corn, sugar cane, or cellulose.

Biodegradable plastics (Biodegradable plastics) refers to the action of microorganisms (such as natural conditions (such as soil, sand, seawater, etc.) or specific conditions (such as composting conditions, anaerobic digestion conditions or aqueous culture fluids, etc.)) Bacteria, mold, fungi, algae, etc.) cause degradation and eventually completely degrade into plastics such as carbon dioxide, water, methane, mineralized inorganic salts, and new substances.

It can be seen that bio-based plastics are defined and divided based on the origin of materials; biodegradable plastics are classified from the perspective of the end of life. In other words, 100% bio-based plastics may not be biodegradable, such as bio-based PET and bio-based PE, their chemical structure is no different from traditional petroleum-based PET or PET; and some traditional petroleum-based plastics It can be biodegradable, such as polybutylene terephthalate (PBAT) and polycaprolactone (PCL).


Can degradable be regarded as biodegradable?


Plastic Degradation refers to the process of significant structural changes and loss of performance under the influence of environmental conditions (temperature, humidity, moisture, oxygen, etc.). Specifically, it can be divided into mechanical degradation, biodegradability, photodegradation, thermal oxygen degradation, and photo oxygen degradation.

Whether a certain plastic will be completely biodegraded is affected by many factors, including crystallinity, additives, microorganisms, temperature, humidity, environmental pH, and length of time. In the absence of conditions, many degraded plastics not only cannot achieve complete biodegradation but may also have a negative impact on the environment and human health. For example, Oxo-degradable plastics (oxo-degradable plastics), under the action of additives, only break up the material and degrade into plastic particles that are invisible to the naked eye.


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