Are biodegradable plastics feasible?

The emergence of biodegradable plastics is seen as a powerful tool to combat plastic pollution, especially the environmental pollution of plastic food contact materials such as disposable cutlery It is a common public perception or expectation of biodegradable plastics that they will disappear automatically without disposal.

1. Are bio-based plastics biodegradable plastics?

Not necessarily!

Some biobased plastics are biodegradable plastics and some are not.

Biobasedplastics are plastics that are based on natural substances such as starch and are produced by the action of microorganisms. The biomass used to synthesize biobased plastics can come from corn, sugar cane or cellulose.

Biodegradableplastics (Biodegradableplastics) are plastics that are completely degraded to carbon dioxide, water, methane, mineralized inorganic salts and newborn substances under natural conditions (such as soil, sand, seawater, etc.) or under specific conditions (such as composting conditions, anaerobic digestion conditions or aqueous cultures, etc.) caused by the action of microorganisms (such as bacteria, molds, fungi and algae, etc.).

2. Can degradable be considered as biodegradable?


Plastic degradation (Plasticdegradation) refers to the process of significant structural changes and loss of performance under the influence of environmental conditions (temperature, humidity, moisture, oxygen, etc.). It can be divided into mechanical degradation, biodegradation, photodegradation, thermo-oxidative degradation and photo-oxidative degradation.

Whether a plastic will completely biodegrade or not is influenced by a variety of factors, including crystallinity, additives, microorganisms, temperature, humidity, environmental pH and time duration. In many cases of degraded plastics, many degraded plastics not only fail to achieve complete biodegradation, but may also have negative impacts on the environment and human health. For example, some oxygen-degradable plastics (Oxo-degradableplastics)plastics) will only be broken by the material and degraded into plastic particles invisible to the naked eye.

3. Compostable plastics = biodegradable plastics?

Not exactly the same, compostable plastic is a kind of biodegradable plastic. Biodegradable plastics also include anaerobic plastics.

Compostable plastics (CompostablePlastics) are plastics that can be converted into carbon dioxide, water and mineralized inorganic salts of their elements and new biomass in a certain period of time through the action of microorganisms under composting conditions, and the final compost formed should meet the relevant standards for heavy metal content, toxicity test and residual debris. Compostable plastics can be further divided into industrial compost and garden compost. Compostable plastics in the market basically belong to biodegradable plastics under industrial composting conditions.