Have you ever noticed that maybe you only use a plastic bag for a few minutes before throwing it away?
However, when thrown in the trash, it can take up to 200 years for plastic bags to decompose. Much longer than human life! 5 trillion plastic bags are used every day around the world.
Among them, there are biodegradable plastic bags that are claimed to be environmentally friendly. But, is it true?
In Environmental Science and Technology research, researchers explain that biodegradable plastic bags that are claimed to be environmentally friendly can be destroyed after 3 years. However, no biodegradable plastic bag is completely destroyed.
In fact, biodegradable plastic bags floating in the ocean for years are still intact. The polymer material in biodegradable plastic bags is considered a material that is difficult to decompose and becomes environmental pollution.
With the threat of global warming and awareness of adopting a sustainable lifestyle, you may be looking for a biodegradable plastic solution.
However, be aware that biodegradable plastic claims are not necessarily environmentally friendly.
Here are some facts to consider when using biodegradable plastic so that you can adopt a sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyle:
The product should be labeled as biodegradable, can be easily decomposed by soil, and destroyed without any complicated recycling process. However, some products, such as biodegradable plastics, are manufactured in a factory with a mixture of chemicals.
In contrast to the type of packaging made from vegetable flour that is easily decomposed by soil, biodegradable plastic mixed with polymers still leaves microparticles that dissolve in water and pollute the oceans.
Most of the packaging labeled as biodegradable plastic requires processing in a special facility or place. Technically, for example, it requires very high temperatures, modern equipment, as well as chemical compounds and oxygen in order to start the biodegradation process.
Although all types of plastic are biodegradable, the process takes years. In fact, the type of plastic from chemicals can not be broken down by bacteria. Therefore, one plastic bag can take up to 450 years to decompose in landfills.
Meanwhile, the decomposition time of biodegradable plastic depends on how fast the process at the facility processes it. If biodegradable plastic is dumped into the ocean, it may harm the ecosystem.
Many assume that there is nothing wrong with using biodegradable plastic, after all, it can be recycled later in the Waste Disposal Site. However, the fact is that the recycling process is quite expensive.
Biodegradable plastics are designed to decompose or 'degrade'. This means that biodegradable plastic cannot be recycled naturally, but must go through a process in certain recycling facilities.
As a result, in areas that do not have recycling facilities, biodegradable plastic will accumulate and over time pollute the environment .
One of the other facts of biodegradable plastic is the release of carbon emissions. Please note that there are two types of biodegradable plastics, namely oxo-biodegradable and hydro-biodegradable.
The two categories of biodegradable plastics begin their degradation by chemical processes, in the form of oxidation and hydrolysis, followed by biological processes.
Furthermore, these two types of biodegradable plastics release carbon dioxide as they degrade. In fact, hydro-biodegradable releases methane which has an impact on climate change and global warming.
Both types can be recycled in waste treatment facilities. However, only oxo-biodegradables can be recycled economically.
There are many alternatives to biodegradable plastics to consider. Starting from tableware, shopping bags, to household appliances.
With biodegradable plastic products that are truly plant-based, when disposed of, these products will decompose and disintegrate in the soil. In fact, it can be used as compost for plants.
Look again at the biodegradable plastic label that you use! Because, bioplastic is different from biodegradable plastic.
Bioplastics is another category of plastics made from organic materials, such as corn, sugarcane, and plant cellulose. However, bioplastics are not necessarily biodegradable or compostable.
Sometimes, plastic products are still mixed with other materials such as polymers. Thus, not all bioplastics are biodegradable.
Many companies are turning to biodegradable packaging nowadays. In addition to reducing the impact of climate change, companies can demonstrate a responsibility towards planetary sustainability.
However, cooperation between producers and consumers is needed when it comes to biodegradable plastics. Why is that? Often, consumers prefer crackle bags over biodegradable plastic bags for price reasons.
It should be realized, the manufacture of biodegradable plastic bags requires a long and expensive process. Therefore, the price is also higher than ordinary crackle bags.
Biodegradable plastics are made from organic materials, not fossil fuels. This is why biodegradable plastic can be eaten by bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms.
However, the decomposition of biodegradable plastics is not that easy. The decomposition process requires the right environmental conditions, such as sufficient light, heat, humidity, and oxygen for complete decomposition to occur. Just like humans, microorganisms do not want to eat biodegradable plastic under certain conditions.
Some biodegradable plastics will easily biodegrade. However, sometimes it also cannot be decomposed because the conditions of the landfill are not suitable for microorganisms.
The sea is an environment that is not suitable for decomposing biodegradable plastic waste. Most microorganisms like warmth and oxygen, these conditions are generally absent in the ocean. Therefore, biodegradable plastic that is thrown into the sea can threaten marine life.
Although it requires a complicated process, biodegradable plastic provides a variety of tangible benefits in daily activities. Unfortunately, plastic is a blessing as product packaging, as well as a threat to the environment.
Although plastic is very helpful for human life, its impact on planet earth is also very concerning.
You may not feel the immediate environmental impact of using plastic bags today, but imagine what if there was climate change and global warming. The beautiful earth will be threatened, even destroyed.
Therefore, we need to take small steps that will have a big impact on future generations. Bring your own biodegradable plastic bag when shopping. Switch to biodegradable trash bags. Do it now, so we can prepare a healthy life for future generations!