Common misconceptions about biodegradable plastics

1. The biological based plastic equivalent to biodegradable plastics

According to relevant definitions, bio-based plastics refer to plastics produced by microorganisms based on natural substances such as starch. Biomass for bioplastics synthesis can come from corn, sugar cane or cellulose. And biodegradable plastic, refers to the natural conditions (such as soil, sand and sea water, etc.) or specific conditions (such as composting, anaerobic digestion conditions or water culture, etc.), by the microbial action (such as bacteria, mold, fungi and algae, etc.) cause degradation, and eventually decomposed into carbon dioxide, methane, water, mineralized inorganic salt and new material of plastic. Bio-based plastics are defined and classified based on the source of material composition; Biodegradable plastics, on the other hand, are classified from an end-of-life perspective. In other words, 100% of biodegradable plastics may not be biodegradable, while some traditional petroleum-based plastics, such as butylene terephthalate (PBAT) and polycaprolactone (PCL), can be.

2. Biodegradable is considered to be biodegradable

Plastic degradation refers to the environmental conditions (temperature, humidity, moisture, oxygen, etc.) under the effect of significant changes in structure, performance loss process. It can be divided into mechanical degradation, biodegradation, photodegradation, thermo-oxygen degradation and photooxygen degradation. Whether a plastic will fully biodegrade depends on a number of factors, including crystallinity, additives, microorganisms, temperature, ambient pH and time. In the absence of appropriate conditions, many degradable plastics are not only unable to biodegrade completely, but may also have negative effects on the environment and human health. Such as part of the oxygen degradation of plastic additives, only the rupture of the material, degradation into invisible plastic particles.

3. Consider the biodegradation under the condition of industrial composting as biodegradation in the natural environment

You can’t exactly draw an equal sign between the two. Compostable plastics belong to the category of biodegradable plastics. Biodegradable plastics also include plastics that are biodegradable in an anaerobic manner. Compostable plastic refers to the plastic in composting conditions, through the action of microorganisms, in a certain period of time into carbon dioxide, water and the mineralized inorganic salts and new substances contained in the elements, and finally formed compost heavy metal content, toxicity test, residual debris should meet the provisions of the relevant standards. Compostable plastics can be further divided into industrial compost and garden compost. Compostable plastics on the market are basically biodegradable plastics under the condition of industrial composting. Because under the condition of compost plastic belongs to the biodegradable, so, if discarded compostable plastic (such as water, soil) in the natural environment, the plastic degradation in the natural environment is very slow, can not completely degraded in a short time, such as carbon dioxide and water of its bad effects on environment and the traditional plastic, there is no substantial difference. In addition, it has been pointed out that biodegradable plastics, when mixed with other recyclable plastics, can reduce the properties and performance of recycled materials. For example, starch in polylactic acid may lead to holes and spots in the film made from recycled plastic.

Post time: Jul-14-2022

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