Every year, the globe produces millions of pounds of discarded plastic bottles and other trash that are made out of non decomposing petroleum byproducts. This trash accumulates in trash dumps, streets and the environment at large. Fortunately there are a number of solutions to this problem.
Instead of producing millions of pounds of plastic bottles that will take thousands of years to decay, many manufacturers are now producing biodegradable plastics that have a much shorter lifespan. We want to talk about the value that landfill biodegradable plastic have and what the future looks like for these miracle materials.
How Do Biodegradable Plastics Work?
Biodegradable plastics are actually very novel. Basically bacteria/microorganisms are created that have one purpose in life, to change the materials in biodegradable plastic into harmless H20. Other forms of landfill biodegradable plastics simply decay faster. There are a number of industrial processes that help to achieve this goal but the two main ones involve bacteria or a very specific manufacturing routine. Typically the bacteria method is better for the environment because the byproduct is water. Fast-decay plastics still degrade into petroleum byproducts.
Do true biodegradable plastics go away with time?
Unfortunately this is a hard question to answer correctly. The reason for this is the fact that there are so many different types of biodegradable plastic. There are a few industry standards both nationally and internationally which aim to alert consumers who wish to purchase environmentally friendly plastics.
Many biodegradable plastic products now come with warnings and advisories that let the consumer know that the product must be disposed of at a proper recycling facility. The reason for this is that many biodegradable plastic products need to be treated in an environment that is devoid of oxygen. If this process is not followed they will act like standard plastic products and not degrade over time. This is one of the flaws of some forms of biodegradable plastics.
What is the verdict on the environmental benefits of biodegradable plastics?
Overall biodegradable plastics bring a great deal of value to the table for a number of reasons. They represent the beginning of science, helping to solve pollution problems from the birth of a product rather than simply doing cleanup after there is a problem. Right now, the science of biodegradable plastics in it’s infancy. Over time this science will develop as more and more efficient processes and products are placed on the market. Current biodegradable plastics are certainly a huge step in the right direction, but the science has a long way to go in becoming more and more environmentally friendly.
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Tim Smith is a former contractor who writes about home improvement and energy efficiency topics for Modernize.com. Tim loves spending time with his family and loves DIY projects.