Biodegradable plastics are those which are broken down by microorganisms into carbon dioxide and water

Biodegradable plastics are those which are broken down by microorganisms into carbon dioxide and water.

Biodegradable plastics are good for the environment as it is a better alternative to Styrofoam and conventional plastics. The versatility of plastics has led to a huge amount of plastic usage in the world today. Since these numbers are difficult to be reduced, we can only change the way plastic is manufactured. Styrofoam and conventional plastics cannot be degraded, thus are being burnt and cause harm to the environment. Whereas for biodegradable plastics, they are plant based which is good for the environment and decompose easily.

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However, according to 2015 report by the United Nations it states that biodegradable plastics rarely actually degrade because they require long-term exposure to high-temperatures of around 50oC, presence of oxygen and exposure to water. This is only possible in an industrial composting facility. Often biodegradable plastics are dumped on landfills, where much of conventional plastics would end up, which have absence of oxygen and thus unlikely to break down. Likewise, for the public as we cannot simply put it as compost and hope it will break down.

Moreover, biodegradable plastics causes environmental problems. When being disposed in oceans, the water reduces ultraviolet (UV) and oxygen exposure, so they will degrade even slower than they normally would. This means that these plastics will be there for a very long time and even when they do break down into small pieces, after many years, they will just add to the existing microplastics problem. These microplastics will harm animals both on land and sea as they mistaken it as food. Also, all biodegradable plastics release greenhouse gases when broken down such as carbon dioxide and methane for hydro-biodegradables.

In conclusion, even though the introduction of biodegradable plastics is well intentioned to help ease the plastic pollution problem its drawbacks outweighs its benefits. Hence, biodegradable plastics do not help the environment due to the specific conditions it has to be under before it can be broken down and even when it does, it pollutes the environment just as much as conventional plastics.