Breaking Down Bioplastic: Eco-Friendly Messiah or Oxymoron?

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While bioplastics are supposed to degrade into nothingness, there’s a catch. Research shows that even several months after disposal, bioplastics showed little to no degradation and could be used as new.

Plastic is truly the subject of a lot of internet bullying these days. Everyone unanimously seems to agree that plastic is equivalent to the devil for our planet. People are actively aiming to pursue plastic-free lifestyles. 

Between all this came a new variety of the P-word. Bioplastic. But can it really save the world?

Plastic became popular simply because it was immune to breakdown by microorganisms. Simply put, plastic could live forever. But this superpower is what went against it. Soon, it started ending up in landfills, causing havoc for centuries.

Bioplastic can be broken down by microorganisms. It’s supposed to have all the great things about plastic, but at lower environmental costs. Does that seem too good to be true? That’s because it probably is.

The Journey or the Destination?

While the biodegradability of these plastics is certainly an advantage in terms of greenhouse gas emission, they don’t seem to have a similar advantage during manufacturing.

Research has shown that the amount of fertilizer, water and soil used to grow crops used in bioplastics has a huge carbon footprint.

Can We Compost?

A number of bioplastics are compostable. However, as is the disadvantage with traditional plastics, we currently lack systems that can compost and manage waste at the large scale. 

Think of it this way, we’re all excellent bathroom singers at home, but a live show in front of an audience of thousands? Oops.

How Long Will This Take?

While bioplastics are supposed to degrade into nothingness, there’s a catch. Research shows that even several months after disposal, bioplastics showed little to no degradation and could be used as new.

It is given another dent by the fact that during decomposition, it releases toxic gases such as methane. Often, some forms of bioplastics are known to release human carcinogens as well.

So what we’re thinking is…good idea, but maybe some more research is in order before we accept it with open arms?

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