Biodegradable and compostable plastic

First of all it is still plastic

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Biodegradable is often understood by the general public almost like that is composts, and that is also the intention of the word being used, but it does no such thing. It degrades in soil, air (through the influence of UV light), and also in water but degrades into what? Well, into ever smaller particles of, guess what, yes, plastic.

Even so-called plant-based plastics, generally, with a possible few exceptions, is just another kind of plastic and in addition to that a plastic that cannot be recycled in the general recycling facilities and systems.

Compostable plastic, such as in single-use carrier bags and other products, does “compost” but generally does not in your ordinary domestic open compost bin in your garden or even the closed composters. It required heat, and quite a lot of it, and thus, generally, only composts in commercial facilities. The question I have is as to whether this kind of plastic really and truly composts or simply breaks down in that heat environment into such small components that we no longer can perceive them but still being plastic.

While there is quite a good reason for using plastic in many cases there is no good reason for using plastic, which is a valuable material, really, in the so-called single-use applications. It is true that the single-use carrier bags are actually not made from virgin oil but generally from naphthalene, a byproduct of oil refining, other single-use plastics for drinks bottles, cups, straws, cutlery, etc., do require virgin polymer and hence should be consigned to the scrap heap of history, and also those so-called paper cups, which are lined with a plastic liner, laminated to the paper, and cannot be separated and thus they cannot be recycled, at least not in the general way.

© 2019