Biodegradable Plastics – The Solution to Plastic Pollution?

Major environmental issues represented by plastic pollution and threats to human health are significant. Developing and adopting biodegradable plastics offers a possible solution to create a more sustainable and environmentally friendly world. To fully understand the effectiveness of biodegradable plastics against plastic pollution, investigations into their full lifecycle, goals, and manufacturing guidelines are crucial.

Composting can help to minimize the environmental harm caused by biodegradable plastics, which have a smaller carbon footprint than regular plastics. By limiting their adverse environmental consequences, these green replacements have qualities similar to conventional ones along with extra perks. Plastic alternatives that decompose rapidly are becoming more crucial given the pressure to reduce waste management and pollution issues.

The Promise of Biodegradable Plastics

Long-term access to petroleum resources may depend on developing and adopting biodegradable plastics. In the sustainable path forward regarding environmental conservation, biodegradable plastics’ value has been proven through uses like medical devices and food packaging. High production costs continue to make the widespread adoption of biodegradable plastics difficult. Research and development efforts should focus on overcoming these barriers.

Distinguishing Biodegradable from Compostable Plastics

Firstly, it is essential to identify the distinctions between biodegradable and compostable plastics before exploring their part in environmental conservation. While both can break down under certain conditions, they serve distinct purposes:

Biodegradable Plastics: Decomposition into natural substances is possible within a reasonable window of time for these plastics. In practice, though, the decomposition of their substances is not always guaranteed.

Compostable Plastics: Unlike biodegradable plastics which break down naturally over time, compostable plastics are specifically created and intensively evaluated. By maintaining strict controls, plastic gets converted into soil conditioners.

Biodegradable Plastics’ Role in Addressing Plastic Waste Pollution

Singlehandedly, biodegradable and compostable plastics cannot solve the plastic pollution crisis. Success demands a holistic plan including waste reduction, recycling, and a shift toward a circular economy. Even environmentally friendly plastics like biodegradable and compostable ones, when disposed of irresponsibly, can negatively affect the environment. With appropriate methods, collecting and matching different types of plastic can help eliminate their presence in nature.

In specific situations, environmentally friendly plastics can contribute to waste reduction. For instance, composting food waste becomes easier thanks to the compostable take-out containers’ capacity to compost along with themselves.

Derived from renewable resources such as seaweed or plants, these plastics help diversify their environmental benefits beyond simply being biodegradable.

EU Policy Framework for Biobased, Biodegradable, and Compostable Plastics

Realizing the role that biodegradable and compostable plastics play in the sustainability landscape, the EU developed a policy approach. The goal is to improve comprehension and direct decision-making through this framework, which covers the creation and application of these plastics throughout the EU. It aims to generate significant ecological advantages while steering clear of market fragmentation.

Understanding Biobased, Biodegradable, and Compostable Plastics

Bioplastics terminologies can often confuse consumers. The wide classification of “bioplastics” comprises different materials, and phrases such as:

Biobased Plastics: Instead of fossil fuels, biological resources are used to create these plastics fully or partially. They could not always be broken down by natural processes like decomposition. Environmental advantages go beyond reduced fossil fuels when a detailed life cycle assessment is carried out.

Biodegradable Plastics: Life cycles end when these plastics decompose due to specific conditions.

Compostable Plastics: Decomposing rapidly when correctly disposed of within industrial composting facilities, compostable plastic subsets are a subset of biodegradable materials. Not viable to reduce, reuse, or recycle them, resources originate from biological or fossil raw materials and must follow circular economy principles.

Although promising, biodegradable plastics alone cannot solve the problem of plastic waste pollution. Greater sustainability will come through a combination of an integrated plan and practical waste reduction techniques.


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