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2018. Biodegradable plastic: The unintended consequences.

posted Oct 15, 2019, 10:19 AM by Alan Gould   [ updated Oct 15, 2019, 10:20 AM ]

United Nations Environment Programme. [https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/25496/singleUsePlastic_sustainability.pdf] In an effort to reduce plastic pollution, many governments have outlawed conventional plastic bags, allowing only the use and production of “biodegradable” bags. Nonetheless, to limit leakage and damage to the environment, the presence of sound waste management systems are as relevant for the so- called bio-degradable options as for fossil fuel-based plastics. Often “biodegradable” plastic items (including single-use plastic bags and containers) break down completely only if exposed to prolonged high temperatures above 50°C (122°F). Such conditions are met in incineration plants, but very rarely in the environment. Therefore, even bioplastic derived from renewable sources (such as corn starch, cassava roots, or sugarcane) or from bacterial fermentation of sugar or lipids (PHA) do not automatically degrade in the environment and especially not in the ocean.