Updated: Mar 26
Data shows that almost 60% of plastic waste comes from packaging material and more than 80% of that plastic is used just once before being sent to landfill, where it can take around 300 Years to degrade. Non-degradable plastics are a growing concern of today’s world. Research and efforts are being made to come up with alternatives to reduce the problem of constantly growing plastic waste.
In order to combat this problem a newer type of material has begun to appear in the markets, known as biodegradable material. Biodegradable material is one that can be broken down by living things like fungi or bacteria. This is made from plant-based materials like corn, potato and wheat starch as opposed to oil-based plastics that are derived from petroleum. When packaging and plastic item are made using biodegradable material, the recycling process becomes easier. Because once the biodegradable material disintegrates and breaks down to smaller pieces, it can then be processed by easily broken down by the bacteria and fungi that are naturally found in the environment which can make a significant different in the impending landfill problem.
There are some other type of material available which are also helpful in fighting the growing plastic waste problems. Like, oxo-degradable plastic and compostable plastic.
‘oxo-degradable’ plastic are different from biodegradable plastic as they don’t need living organisms to initiate the breakdown process. In case of oxo-degradable plastic, the chemical additives used during the manufacturing of said plastic allow the plastic to break down much at a much quicker rate as compared to that of a regular plastic.
Compostable plastic are also made using a plant material that return to base organic components when processed. And since they are ultimately made of cellulose, no toxic gases are released into the environment when they are decomposing. This kind of material needs a specific environment to initiate the decomposition process and completed in specialized processing centre as well.
While it is true that each type of material as mentioned-above require specific processing conditions to breakdown, it is still a significant improvement over the normal plastics which are not even recyclable! It still makes sense for the world to use the degradable material and takes us one step closer to reducing the amount of non degradable waste.