4 Unapprised Truths About Biodegradable Plastics You Should Know
Plastics are essential element in the modern world in any industry be it in the food and beverage, cosmetics, hotels and restaurants, electronics, and so on. Hence, we can hardly imagine ourselves exempting from the application of plastics in our day-to-day life due to its lightweight, conveniency, versatility, and cost-effective properties. But most conventional plastics are still made from fossil fuels which result in toxic emissions of greenhouse gases that adversely defiles the environment. Therefore, plastics severely degrade the environment throughout their life-cycle, be it production, usage, and final disposal.
Redundant littering of plastic has been an alarming problem around the world, owing to its adverse effects on the environment and humanity. This has led to the rapid production and application of biodegradable plastics as a green alternative to the environment since they are made from recycled materials, plant cellulose, and hence are considered to be easily compostable, lessening its impact on the environment. According to the report published by Research Dive, the global biodegradable plastics market is expected to generate a revenue of $8,940.5 million by 2028, exponentially growing at a CAGR of 9.5% from 2021-2028.
Crucial Truths About Biodegradable Plastics
Most of the consumer products are endorsed and promoted as biodegradable, bio-based, or compostable products in order to pose it as an effective green alternative to plastic. But, there are certain limitations about these plastics that most people don’t know about. Here are some truths about the biodegradable plastics.
Biodegradable Plastics May Release Toxic Methane Gas in Landfills
More and more people around the globe are inclining towards the adoption of biodegradable plastics but their redundant disposal and improper management can result in the emission of hazardous gases like methane and ethylene when decomposed in landfills under the influence of sunlight. Methane is about 85 times more powerful than carbon dioxide that can significantly speed-up global warming with its rapid heat absorption.
Marine Pollution is Not Solved with the Application of Biodegradable Plastics
Biodegradable plastics can be broken down overtime by microbes under optimum conditions within a given time frame. Polylactic acid (PLA), for example, is recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable. But, they cannot be easily decomposed in cold ocean waters as these plastics require certain temperature and time for it to decompose completely. Therefore, these plastics will either float on water or produce microplastics, creating widespread health hazards to the aquatic life, which in turn might potentially enter the food chain as well.
Massive Use of Crops for the Production of Biodegradable Plastics
Biodegradable plastics are made from organic plant materials like corn sugar, sugarcane, potato, and so on, immensely reducing the demand for fossil fuels which are used to make traditional plastics. But massive number of organic materials or crops are required to make these biodegradable plastics, which can be conversely used to produce food. The world is extensively combating against the scarcity of food around the globe, especially in underdeveloped countries and rural areas. This factor opens up skeptical apprehensions about the increasing application of biodegradable plastics.
Availability of Water for Effective Decomposition of Biodegradable Plastics
Organic materials like sugarcane, potato, corn-starch, and so on are extensively used to produce biodegradable plastics which require adequate amount of water for its decomposition. Hence, rainwater can significantly expedite the decomposition process. But, certain humid countries or areas lacking in rainfall might take a long time to decompose these biodegradable plastics due to the lack of water in the region.
What Can We Do to Minimize the Environmental Degradation?
To sum up, no doubt any kind of plastic is harmful to the environment, but we can hardly imagine ourselves going about even a day without the application of plastics in our day-to-day life. Hence, the usage of biodegradable plastics or bioplastic is far better than the application of conventional plastics, considering the decreased environmental impact in case of biodegradable plastics. But we should try and limit ourselves from using plastics as much as possible. Extensive adoption of paper bags should also be promoted by the companies when customers are shopping in a mall, purchasing electronics or buying Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) products in the convenient stores.
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