Why biodegradable/bio plastics suck

There is one discussion I will never be tired of: the one about biodegradable plastic/bioplastic.

The kind of which is used for organic waste bags, coffee capsules as an alternative for nespresso, oneway cups, plates and cuttery and many more and are supposed to be biodegradable. I am so sorry to tell you — but they are not. Why I try to avoid these products:

First lets talk about what biodegradable means according to wikipedia: “capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms and thereby avoiding pollution“

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Second what is the difference between bioplastic and biodegradable plastic:

Biodegradable plastics are mode of similar petrochemical-based material (normal plastic) but they have some chemicals added, so that they break down faster. Then they degrade not into air and love but a mixture of toxic chemicals. This is what makes them unsuitable for composting. In the past years the EU tried to ban these kind of plastic because of its misleading name and doubtful environmental benefits.

Then there are bioplastics. These consist of of corn/ potatoe starch, sugar or wheat. These can actually decay into the soil. But: they often need very high temperature in in industrial composter or biologically active landfills. You can’t just put them your home composter and hope for the best. Well, you can, but you’ll be disappointed.

Pro:

-saves energy while being produced compared to normal plastic — 30%-80% less greenhouse gas emissions

-bioplastic saves us from using real plastic which destroys nature while getting fossil oil, takes a lot of energy to produce, and often ends up in the ocean and destroys ecosystems

Contra

-while decomposing can produce methane which is even worse than co2 concerning global warming

-some need UV Light or very high temperature which in Germany most industrial composters can’t offer. Officials keep asking the public not to use biodegradable bags in the organic waste bin, because fishing them out again costs a lot of time and energy

-the moral and agricultural argument: for producing these plastics you need land. Farmers grow these crops instead of food. On the long run there Is less water, pesticides being used, the soil gets worse, farming is more expensive, food prizes will rise — especially after a summer like in 2018 and especially for poor people it will be harder to afford fresh produce.

-most restaurants and establishment that use them don’t separate the waste properly and just put them into the waste bin for normal plastics or just the regular trash which is being burned

We see: the contra list is much longer than the pros. This is why I avoid bioplastics and co. at all and try to go Zero Waste. It is good for our conscious but hardly helps the environment.

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Milena Glimbovski

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Milena Glimbovski

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