Biodegradable plastics

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

In all honesty this could be rather a short piece for there really is no such thing as a biodegradable plastic, bar those made from cornstarch and the other kind used by EcoGen.

The rest of plastics, whether plastic carrier bags or other, do not biodegrade nor compost.

There is also no biodegradable plastic carrier bag, bar, maybe, those that are, supposedly, made of cornstarch.

The claim that carriers biodegrade is far fetched for they, like all plastics, will just break down slowly, through the impact of light, and other elements, into ever smaller particles of plastic. But that is not in any way a process of biodegrading. And while thus breaking down those products continue to release whatever chemicals into the soil and the water, and, probably, if and when the particles become small enough, into the air as well. Not a nice prospect and the truth is there are probably already masses of those minute plastic particles in the air that we all breathe.

Even the cornstarch plastic takes up to two years to decompose and I would suggest that we get away from plastics wherever we can. Not that that is a real possibility and feasibility seeing so many things are made of plastic nowadays.

In the absence of real biodegradable plastic, however, we then should ensure that all plastic is recyclable and is recycled and maybe, just maybe, we could, at least as far as containers for packaging is concerned go back to some of the old ways, such as glass bottles and jars, also for yogurts, for instance, and some still come on glass pots.

Such glass containers, as mentioned above, should also be returnable – for a small refund – to be refilled and reused.

We also should and must return to the loose goods sales in the grocery stores rather than everything prepackaged in lots of plastic.

Why, precisely, does Braun have to put their replacement tooth brush heads into those big blister packs of non-recyclable plastics often when the brushes are already “wrapped” in individual blisters of their own? Only so they are big boxes that people can spot a mine off. This does not make sense.

In fact here are so many things that just do not make things that it is rather worrying at times and proof that we have not advanced at all in so many ways.

While I am no Luddite and do not wish to appear as one there are many old ways a technologies that may be much better in our endeavor to live with a lower environmental footprint than many of those modern ways and gadgets.

Do you really have to have a handheld computer, a PDA? Would not a paper notebook and a pen suffice? I know it does for me. The Filofax is also still kind with me. No batteries and no bits that could fail and cause data loss.

I am also one of those people – and I have no idea as to how many of us there may be – who recycles by repurposing as much as I can and I do make my own notebooks, for instance, from “waste” paper.

But I digressed a little – yet again – at the end.

As far as the truth is concerned there are, aside from the cornstarch based and EcoGen no plastics that are biodegradable and hence we should, therefore, demand that at least all those plastics that we HAVE to use are recyclable and are going to be recycled.

© 2009