Why 'Biodegradable Plastics' Are Misleading Us

'Biodegradable plastics' are a truly insane solution to a real environmental disaster and public health crisis.


Chances are if you live in an area that has passed any law against the sale of single-use plastics, that you've come across some of these:





'Biodegradable plastics' are popping up everywhere today, but the concept is misleading.


With pressure being placed on businesses to reduce their single-use plastic footprint, they're resorting to another, more expensive single-use product.


These products look like plastic and feel like plastic, yet they're adorned with words like 'eco-friendly and environmentally friendly'. So what gives? Did we really just solve the plastic crisis?


The short answer is HELL NO.


Companies are taking advantage of consumer demand for sustainable products by feeding us a new 'green plastic'. These SINGLE-USE cups, bags, etc. might be a step up from your traditional oil-based plastics, but they're far from sustainable.


So what are they and why are they bad?


'Biodegradable plastics' are derived from farmed plants like corn and sugarcane, but they don't break down as advertised. These single-use products only biodegrade in an INDUSTRIAL COMPOSTING FACILITY, which few locations around the world actually have. And even worse they cannot be recycled. So what happens?


The most-likely scenario is that these cups are used once and thrown away to rot in a landfill.


Not only is this a waste of food, but the misleading messaging on the products might lead consumers to litter more because they believe the products will degrade in nature!


To get technical, these products are made from PLA (poly lactic acid) polymers, and continue to persist in nature for hundreds of years.


What's better than 'Biodegradable Plastics'?


The inconvenient truth is that any single-use product is inherently wasteful, and the real solution to our world's plastic crisis is to foster a more re-usable lifestyle.


You can help at home by investing in re-usable water bottles, coffee mugs, shopping bags, and food containers. And making sure you actually use them!


When you adventure outdoors, leave the world a little cleaner than you found it, and educate your family and friends to become active advocates for clean seas!

References


https://www.ecoproducts.com/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/materials-science/polylactide

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/23/biodegradable-plastic-false-solution-for-ocean-waste-problem

https://phys.org/news/2019-05-biodegradable-plastic.html

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