The word “bioplastics” means a material that can be degraded in a given period of time without posing a health or environmental hazard. As per the plastic manufacturer, it has been claimed that if the plastic has been buried, then it will remain intact after three years either in the sea or in underground soil. So those bags which can hold more than two kilos of shopping are these undegradable bags.
Imogen Napper and Richard Thompson are the two researchers from the University of Plymouth who has tested for biodegradable, oxo-biodegradable, compostable, and conventional polythene bags. This test has been arranged for three natural and different environments: ground, sea, and outdoor exposure to air and sunlight. In each of these three environments, the plastic remained intact and was not broken down.
This is the biggest surprising fact that the reality of “biodegradable” still lacks in our experiments. There are many types of bioplastic available in the market. All these types of plastic have different degradation rates and requirements.
Plastic is made of polymers that are made of many units linked together in a chain. This thorough size of the basic unit makes well-known properties like solid, tough, strong, flexible, etc. of the plastic manageable.
Plastics are ready to react with any of the chemicals due to which they the most durable and versatile materials know a day. No doubt, every coin has two sides; this durability is not good if it is not withdrawn on its original sites, i.e., the ocean.
Degradable nature of the bioplastic
Bioplastic means that plastic can be broken down naturally but does not have any particular time specified for degradation. And under some conditions, this can take a long period.
Some bioplastics are called “compostable,” and there are strict standards for its degradation. One of the examples of bioplastic is PLA that is polylactic acid. PLA is used for food packaging, and it has been certified to European Standard EN13432, which means that it has to be degraded under specified conditions in less than 12 weeks
An artificial environment is created in industrial composting plants, which supply an appropriate amount of moisture, air, heat, and microorganisms. There is also one temperature condition, which is more than 60°C, which is not possible for a natural environment to degrade.
So basically, neither biodegradable nor compostable implies to this material as materials are not naturally being able to be degraded. The plastic remains as it is after more than two years exposed in the air and the sea in the study. These plastic materials cant be degraded without external treatment provided for its degradation. This clearly specifies that if this plastic is also leaked into the natural environment, then this will be proved as harmful as conventional plastics as per Plymouth studies.
Although it is obvious that we need a solution for this because around the third portion of the plastic packaging ends up in landfills. So without any significant changes, there will be plastics more than fishes found in the oceans by weight until 2050 comes.