Short answer: Yes!
Long answer: biodegradable plastic will not solve the problem of litter and is still a mistake to pollute the environment with our throw-away items, so by saying that biodegradable plastic is better, we are not suggesting the undiscriminating use of single-use products. In fact, a functioning waste-management system is still crucial to avoid the perpetuation of litter in our oceans and lands.
There are some specific reasons for using biodegradable plastic which do not relate to the problem of rubbish, continue the reading to find out more.
Reasons why biodegradable plastic is better
1) No depletion of non-renewable resources
When producing standard plastic, such as PET used for bottles, there is the depletion of non-renewable resources, primarily as oil, which is finite. This also means that plastic is subject to the price of oil. Whilst most of the type of biodegradable materials are made by using renewable resources, such as cornstarch.
2) Some degrade in the environment
Biodegradable plastic should be collected and recycled in appropriate facilities, because if dispersed the problem of litter will persist, even if temporarily.
However, some products made with biodegradable plastic have the ability to degrade if dispersed, through the action of micro-bacteria, this process can take a variable amount of time, depending on the specific polymers, shape and strength. Hence, if you leave a standard plastic bottle in your garden, it will take a minimum of 450 years to decompose, the time for biodegradable plastic breaks down in 3-6 months.
We need also make the point that biodegradable doesn’t always mean compostable, in fact, biodegradable plastic must be disposed of and processed in appropriate facilities to have a minimum impact on the environment. There have been a lot of debates over the fact that some biodegradable plastics are able to biodegrade if left in the environment. This is due to the different polymers utilised, lack of legislation and different ways of labeling of biodegradable products in different countries.
Plastic releases greenhouse gasses when degrades, together with other harmful substances, such as methane and ethylene. Biodegradable plastic when decomposing releases CO2 but only the carbon that originally was in the material that composed it.
Less pollution is also achieved because fewer emissions are discharged when producing biodegradable items.
4) Climate change
Using biodegradable plastic means working towards the mitigation of climate change which is affecting the functioning of the ecosystem and causing also the death of many species.
5) Fuel efficiency
Rarely we think about the energy used to produce plastic, even in this case biodegradable plastic is more advisable than the standard plastic because it has been shown that the energy used for bioplastic is 65% less compared to the petroleum-based one.
Conclusion: why biodegradable plastic is better?
Saying that biodegradable plastic is better doesn’t mean to advocate the use of a lot of packaging or single-use products, because this won’t solve the problem of litter, for example. Also, we don’t intend to say that biodegradable plastic is disadvantage-free.
However, biodegradable plastic has many advantages and less impact, as early demonstrated, but countries should establish a shared framework for the standards of bioplastic and also for its disposal. Governments should then envisage advertising campaigns to inform citizens and prompt them to behave responsibly.
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