Are you thinking of going greener in 2023? But not too sure what biodegradable plastics are and their advantages and disadvantages. Biotuff explores all the essential aspects of biodegradable plastics and what consumers need to know before investing in these sustainable products.
Since the condemnation of traditional plastics, consumers have been offered many alternatives over the years. The plastic bag ban across all Australian states started in 2009 when South Australia banned single-use plastic bags unless they were biodegradable. The plastic bag bans undoubtedly started the trend for consumers to understand the enormity of the plastic problem around the globe.
As consumers quickly replaced plastic bag consumption with biodegradable, compostable, reusable, and recyclable options, the desire to remove all plastics became a critical concept to many. This saw the rise of different biodegradable and compostable plastics worldwide.
Top Five Advantages of Biodegradable Plastic
Reduces Fossil Fuels
Being sourced from natural sources such as corn, biodegradable plastics use fewer fossil fuels to be produced. In addition, non-renewable sources such as petroleum which is a main ingredient in traditional plastic products can be conserved, making this a significant advantage of biodegradable plastics.
Smaller Carbon Footprint
Traditional plastics project a mass of carbon emissions during their production. Bioplastics significantly reduce this carbon emission during their manufacturing process. The plant-based materials also generate minimal carbon during the composting and breakdown process.
Decompose Faster – With No Toxic Residue
Compostable and biodegradable plastics can break down much faster than plastic. Plus, these eco-friendly options leave no pollutants once broken down, unlike plastic, which cannot break down.
Uses Less Energy During Production
Not only do biodegradable plastics use less energy during the production process they also require much fewer fossil fuels to be utilised during the recycling process. They are allowing a much more environmentally friendly approach from production to breakdown.
Biodegradable Plastics Are Kinder To The Earth
Biodegradable plastics are the eco-friendly solution to traditional plastic. They break down quickly while also reducing the waste and methane in landfills. In addition, biodegradable plastics are sustainable and can prevent the ongoing use and production of plastic.
Top Five Disadvantages of Biodegradable Plastics
Not All Biodegradable Plastics Are Created Equally
Sadly, some biodegradable plastics still contain many of the same chemicals as traditional plastics. Consumers must check they are investing in biodegradable products that meet their eco-friendly expectations. Choosing biodegradable AND compostable plastics can ensure your biodegradable plastic meets your expectations.
Correct Disposal is Vital
Consumers must dispose of their biodegradable plastics correctly. For products to start the biodegrading process, they require the right environment. Ensuring you dispose of your biodegradable plastics correctly is important. Always refer to the manufacturer's guidelines. Biodegradable plastics can take three to six months to break down, unlike traditional plastic, which can take hundreds of years while leaving the toxic matter in the environment. However, biodegradable plastics can take much longer to break down without the correct temperature or moisture levels.
The Throw Away Society
Many will argue that bioplastics and biodegradable plastics are continuing to drive the 'throw away' mindset in society. However, in many situations, such as food prep, these plastics are vital for hygiene and food safety. The everyday reusable shopping bag was also hailed a hero to now be cluttering landfills worldwide. Choosing to utilise biodegradable and compostable shopping bagscan reduce these issues substantially. However, as with all products society chooses to embrace, environmental consciousness is required to ensure we protect Mother Earth.
Biodegradable Plastic is Expensive to Produce and Dispose
Manufacturing biodegradable plastics is much better for the environment. But, industrial processors and composters can be hugely expensive. This equipment is also hard to find. As biodegradable plastics become more mainstream, these costs will likely be significantly reduced.
Can Release Harmful Substances When Breaking Down
Biodegradable plastics release much fewer harmful and toxic substances during their breakdown process than traditional plastic products. However, they can release toxic substances such as methane and metals, mainly if the chosen bioplastic is not 100% compostable and biodegradable. Therefore, consumers need to research their intended bioplastic products, what they are made of, and if they are compostable while also taking note of how to dispose of these products correctly.
Why Choose Biodegradable and Compostable Plastics?
There is no doubt that choosing to switch from traditional plastic to biodegradable plastic is an eco-friendly and sustainable option. Biodegradable plastic that are also compostable are allowing many industries and homeowners the opportunity of transforming their plastic usage intonutrient-rich compost.
It is ultimately driving the change needed to stop the production of traditional plastic that is detrimental to our environment and the planet's health. Plastic usage and production are currently at an all-time high and are only expected to increase over the years. However, consumers who make the environmental choice to switch to bioplastics are helping to reduce this production and putting more pressure on industries to switch to a much more environmentally friendly option.
The plastic boom after WW2 has seen approximately 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic being produced, with only around 9% of this being recycled and 12% incinerated and the remainder ending up in landfill – only leading to other environmental impacts of humanity's insatiable appetite for plastic products. The industry itself predicts plastic production to only increase.
Embracing bioplastics and compostable plastic options is vital for the planet's and humankind's health.