A triangular symbol made of three "chasing arrows" containing a number in the middle and special letters on the outside

is used to identify the different types of plastic. The following are the letters of identification and their meaning: 1. PETE - Polyethylene Terephthalate - PETE is most often used for cooking oil bottles, soft drink bottles, and peanut butter jars. 2. HDPE - High Density Polyethylene - HDPE is commonly used for milk jugs and detergent bottles. 3. PVC - Polyvinyl Chloride - PVC is used for plastic pipes, water bottles, outdoor furniture, shrink-wrap, liquid detergent containers, and salad dressing containers. 4. LDPE - Low Density Polyethylene - LDPE is often used for trash can liners, drycleaning bags, produce bags, and food storage containers. 5. PP - Polypropylene - PP is used for drinking straws and bottle caps. 6. PS - Polystyrene - PS is used to make packaging pellets, commonly referred to as "Styrofoam peanuts." 7. OTHER - Plastics listed in the OTHER category are any not listed in the first six categories. Certain types of Tupperware and other food storage containers commonly fit within the OTHER category. The many different types of plastic has made recycling plastic difficult, particularly because the process of sorting plastics cannot be automated. In fact, recycling plastic is labor intensive since reading the special triangular symbol can only truly identify most plastic items. Biodegradable Plastic Currently, there is research taking place in the area of biodegradable plastic. The goal is to develop a type of plastic that can naturally break down from exposure to sunlight. By mixing starch with the plastic, it can be made to degrade more easily. It does not, however, cause the plastic to break down completely. A genetically engineered bacterium capable of synthesizing biodegradable plastic has also been developed. This material, however, is quite expensive to create at this point. Currently, BASF does make a biodegradable polyester called Ecoflex that is used for food packaging applications. Unfortunately, carbon gets locked up in these biodegradable plastics and is released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Another downside to these biodegradable plastics is that they require sunlight to degrade. Therefore, this type of plastic really only helps with roadside litter. Plastics buried in landfills will not receive the sun they need to degrade and, therefore, can still last for decades. While there are still many questions left unanswered when it comes to the environment and plastic, it is clear plastic is here to stay for a very long time.

9 June 2010 MUSCAT -- On the occasion of World Environment Day, celebrated recently, Oman Plastic Industries began the manufacture of Oxo-Biodegradable plastic bags for the first time in Oman. Oman Plastic Industries is officially certified by the Directorate-General of Specifications and Measurements of Oman to manufacture the oxo-biodegradable plastic carry bags, after completing the necessary test run with the co-ordination of the local distributors of the d2w additive in Oman. Oxo-biodegradable plastics, with a pre-programmed life, significantly reduce the harmful effect on the environment. At the end of its useful service life, they degrade in the environment by a combination of oxidation and biodegradation. During its service-life, strength and other qualities are the same as ordinary plastics. The plastic eventually breaks down to water, carbon dioxide, biomass and trace elements, on land or sea, in the light or dark, in heat or cold. It leaves no fragments or methane or harmful residues thus avoiding pollution and damage to the environment and wildlife. Oxo-Biodegradable plastics do not need a highly-microbial environment to degrade. It will happen even if the plastic is left in the open or in the sea.

Ecomagination from GE - with innovation, there will be more clean water for everyone The plastic is made oxo-biodegradable with the addition of d2w additive when the plastic product is being manufactured. d2w products have been available for more than four years and are now used in more than 50 countries by major retailers, hotel groups, food manufacturers, etc. The additive does not have any toxic effect and is totally soil safe as per the ATM D 6954 -04 Standard which tests plastics that degrade in the environment by a combination of oxidation and biodegradation. The world produces and uses 20 times more plastic today than it did 50 years ago. Ordinary plastics can take up to 400 years to break down. Given plastic is a fundamental part of our day-to-day lives, it is time to move on to a more earth-friendly product like degradable plastic. "With the technology now available in Oman, it empowers retailers and organisations who think 'Green' to show their care for the environment," says Tariq Ali Mirza, Managing Director of Oman Plastic Industries. By Staff Reporter

HDPE Plastics Ubiquitous in every day life and accounting for the bulk of material used to create milk bottles, laundry detergent bottles, and margarine tubs, it may surprise some readers to learn that HDPE plastic actually begins life as thick black crude oil pumped out of the ground. HDPE plastics are produced from a component of crude oil, naphtha, which is cracked (heated at very high temperatures) in order to extract the ethylene gas which is released when the chemical structure of naphtha deteriorates. The ethylene gas is then polymerized, a process which involves the free gas particles joining together to produce long chains of ethylene molecules. There are many different types of polyethylene. HDPE is a particular type of polyethylene with a very dense linear structure which gives it an increased tensile and molecular strength. HDPE is normally defined as being polyethylene with minimum density of 0.941 grams per cubed centimeter. Within the category of HDPE plastics, molecular weights range from 100,000 to 500,000, which is where the great variance in HDPE grades arises. Common grades of HDPE plastics include blow molding grade HDPE plastics, injection molding grade HDPE plastics, film grade HDPE plastics, and pipe grade HDPE plastics. Each of these grades have slightly different physical properties, the most notably important one being MFI, or melt flow index. Melt flow index describes how quickly the HDPE plastic flows when in liquid form, applications such as pipe making and blow molding require a highly viscous slow flowing HDPE plastic, whereas injection molding requires a quickly flowing HDPE resin. HDPE plastics were first invented in the 1950¶s, though it took some time to discover ways to reliably produce large amounts of homogeneous HDPE, as the processes under which HDPE is produced must be tightly controlled in order to produce the different grades of HDPE. Ethylene naturally polymerizes at high temperatures and pressures, but it is not commercially viable to operate facilities under these conditions. So instead, catalysts are used to lower the temperature at which polymerization will take place, and also direct the type of polymer which results. HDPE¶s largely linear structure with little molecular branching is commonly produced by Zeigler-Natta catalysts, or chromium catalysts. HDPE lends itself well to recycling, and a great deal of reprocessed HDPE, recycled HDPE, and regrind HDPE is available on the market. The bulk of recycled HDPE plastics are post consumer scrap reclaimed from kerbside recycling programs. Millions of tons of HDPE plastic milk bottles and other household vessels are collected and recycled every year. For the most part, recycled HDPE plastics are equally as useful as virgin HDPE plastics, though they may not be used in food contact applications. There is some risk that contaminants found in the scrap HDPE from which recycled HDPE is made may pass through the various cleaning and filtration steps and degrade and contaminate the end product. If one is dealing with a reputable supplier, and the specific application is not

overly intensive, recycled HDPE is an economically sound alternative to virgin HDPE plastic. Plastics can be biodegradable because they are already made by chemical reaction. Plastics are derivatives of hydrocarbon. And only those things can be biodegrade those are related to living organisms like paper, fruits waste ,skin or even cloth

INTRODUCTION: During the past 25 years, plastic materials have gained widespread use in the food, clothing, shelter, transportation, construction, medical and leisure industries. Plastics offer a number of advantages over alternative materials ± they are lightweight, extremely durable, and relatively unbreakable. However, plastic materials also have several disadvantages, one of the largest being that plastic does not break down in the environment. Materials such as wood and paper are subject to breakdown from microorganisms (biodegradation). Plastics are composed of petroleum-based materials called resins (e.g., polyethylene, polypropylene) ± materials that are resistant to biodegradation and because of this resistance, plastics that are disposed of in landfills will remain in their original form in perpetuity. Every year, large volumes of plastics are disposed of in U. S. landfills ± in 1995 alone, an estimated 20 million tons of plastic products were disposed of in landfills. TYPES OF BIODEGRADABLE PLASTIC 1) Starch based plastics: These are 'compostable' plastics made from various food substances and they compostable because they will completely biodegrade within 4 months in a commercial composting plant. Please be aware that they do not decompose in a home composting facility because elevated heat is required to compost them. PLA is the best known type. The largest manufacturer of starch based plastic is reported as saying that they will create methane if placed into the anaerobic zone of landfills. This kind of plastic is best suited for composting in commercial composting facilities where food and garden waste are composted but undesirable in landfills. 2) Oxo-biodegradable conventional plastics: These are conventional plastics with an additive added to them that cause them to biodegrade. They require a two part process to biodegrade, all parts of which must occur in the open air or in soil that is aerated . The first half of the process requires either heat, UV light or mechanical stress. The second part of the process occurs when bacteria consume the partly decomposed plastic. This type of plastic is best suited where littering is the primary concern. Important to note that this type of plastic cannot be composted and there is no ecological advantage when placed in landfills. 3) Microbiodegradable conventional plastics: These are conventional plastics to which a special additive has been added causing them to

biodegrade naturally. This additive works only in soil that has naturally occurring micro organisms. It will biodegrade without the need for oxygen, UV light, heat or mechanical stress. In an oxygenated environment it decomposes into humus, carbon dioxide, and water. In an oxygen deprived atmosphere it decomposes into humus, methane and water. This kind of plastic is not recommended for composting because it takes somewhat longer to biodegrade than the typical commercial composting cycle, but it is excellent for disposal in landfills. In order to produce plastics that degrade in a landfill setting another scientific approach was necessary. Company Y has developed an alternative method for creating microbiodegradable plastics. This method involves a proprietary combination of organic and inorganic chemical materials which have been mixed in a very precise formulation and compounded into a reactor-grade master batch pellet. When this pellet is compounded with any polyethylene or polypropylene resin, the resulting plastic is biodegradable. The biodegradation of X-treated plastic occurs through aerobic (oxygen dependant) and anaerobic (dependent on the absence of oxygen) pathways. Micro organisms consume the plastic, assimilating the material for cellular processes and producing a mixture of metabolic products (principally methane, carbon dioxide, and water). PLASTICS SYNTHESIZED The C process may be utilized in the manufacture of bags, agricultural film, landscape netting, diaper liners, and numerous other products. The viability of C-treated plastic as an environmentally safe, biodegradable product was evaluated by conducting standard tests on X pellets and plastic film which were created using the X process. Biodegradation tests were conducted to determine the susceptibility of the products to biodegradation. In addition, chemical analyses and standard plant and animal toxicity tests were conducted on the end product of the biodegradation process to determine the safety of the product. The results of these tests are discussed below.

2.0 BIODEGRADATION TESTS Laboratory testing is a common method used to determine the susceptibility of compounds to biodegradation. Testing methods have been developed and standardized by several organizations including the American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and European Standards Organization (CEN). The method employed by the various tests involves adding a small amount of test compound (in this case, X pellets or plastic film) to a large amount of a material called inoculum (a highly active substance used to grow microorganisms). The test is run at the same time using a reference compound that is known to be biodegradable, also added to inoculum. Biodegradation can be evaluated by measuring the amount of methane and carbon dioxide produced. Using this result, the percentage of sample that has biodegraded is calculated as the percentage of solid carbon of the sample that has been converted to gaseous, mineral carbon. If the results from the test and reference materials are similar, the test material has biodegradable properties.

PLA is a ³compostable plastic´ in that it goes through ³degradation´ to break down and is therefore not true ³biodegradation´. These range from heavy or low metals. OXO-BIODEGRADABLE PLASTIC: Next we have oxo-biodegradable. However. this claim is confusing because they are using the term ³biodegradable´ extremely loosely. Now that we know this. as the name implies this technology allows the product to degrade. This particular technology incorporates the use of an additive that begins to break the plastic chains only when exposed to oxygen. fungi. PLA does not break down or biodegrade in a landfill and will only begin to ³degrade´ after being exposed to heat (specifically 60° C over a five day period). salts. specifically it is being manufactured from starches derived from genetically modified corn (GMO food). In the market place today there are three categories of plastics that biodegrade or degrade. and algae´. This technology and supporting organizations such as BPI (Biodegradable Products Institute) claim that PLA biodegrades. the marketing materials suggest that once the pieces of plastic have broken down into small enough fragments there is a second stage that gives microbes the opportunity to finish the process through biodegradation. what does it mean and why is there so much confusion about something that sounds easy to explain? The ASTM defines biodegradable plastics as ³a degradable plastic in which the degradation results from the action of naturally occurring micro-organisms such as bacteria. Oxo-degradable and a new technology called Microbiodegradable. There are varying reports as to what remains in the soil and air once an oxo-degradable product has degraded. Although this technology is fairly upfront with the type of degradation taking place. Sounds simple enough. Because . This aspect may be true but it is extremely difficult to validate as the plastic fragments must have degraded to the microbe level. NOT in the domestic composter in your garden. so why all the confusion? The confusion really arises from two aspects. This kind of environment can only be found in a commercial composting facility. We find that many of the articles and organizations who support PLA are greatly contributing to the confusion by not using correct standards based definitions of that technology. CO2 and. Once PLA composts the remnant is CO2 and because professional composting facilities are not currently capturing the gas it is usually released into the atmosphere. Those technologies are PLA (Polylatic Acid).³Biodegradable Plastic´. heat and moisture. Confusion between the use of the term degradable vs biodegradable and the very loose use of the word biodegradable. how do we know which ones biodegrade or degrade? P PLA PLASTIC: PLA is a bioplastic made from starch.

This technology is also in the form of an additive which is added to existing polymers. however you should always keep in mind the overall net impact to the environment. light or heat and will take place no matter how deep the plastic is buried.many of these products will degrade in a landfill the CO2 gas will normally be captured and released into the atmosphere. This is the technology behind Biogreen Products. Kind Regards . When trying to answer this environmental question it is important to keep in mind the following criteria: using food to create plastics. pesticides that effect water. total water consumption. does the biodegradation or degradation create any benefits such as clean energy? Is it sensible to use vast amounts of food to create plastic that could otherwise be used to feed the worlds¶ hungry. oxo-biodegradable and microbiodegradable. greenhouse gases emitted in processing and breaking down. MICROBIODEGRADABLE PLASTIC: Moving on to the final technology we have third generation microbiodegradation. released or burned. Will the degradation take place deep in the landfill and are the products acceptable for commercial recycling. Because the polymer chain is open the micro organisms can use the carbon chain as a source of food and energy. degradable. It still leaves the bigger question as to which technology and method is better for the environment? This is another important question and requires further explanation. This is happening at the atomic level and the remnants are CO2. CH4 and inert humus and because many of these products will degrade in a landfill the gases of CO2 and CH4 will be captured. Biogreen Products use organic compounds to open the polymer chain and attractants stimulate microbial colonization on the plastic. This type of plastic can also be recycled in the normal way. We now know the difference between the three. It is also important to note that this process activates with or without the presence of air. many thanks for taking the time to read this article and I hope that you found it informative. the benefit of the product. total fossil fuels used in processing. CONCLUSIONS: So there we have it in a nutshell.

Why Plastic Degrades Not Biodegrades. August 1. Because these combinations are man made they are unknown to nature. This is a mechanical process involving mechanical actions such as ripping splitting and falling apart. the breaking down of organic substances by natural means. animal-based. But while they cant be seen those pieces are still there and are still plastic. We live. Plastic merely breaks up. Consequently there is no natural system to break them down. Dr Richard Thompson of the University of Plymouth has identified plastic particles thinner than the diameter of a human hair. happens all the time in nature. we die. we rot and so we feed the next generation ± that¶s life. 2008 Biodegrading. This means that plastic products are pretty much indestructible in a biodegradable sense at least. Which is in many ways fantastic and plastic is indeed a wonder product. . What happens to plastic in the environment? DEGRADING As time passes plastic will eventually break down into smaller and smaller pieces. All plant-based. No matter how small the pieces they are still and always will be plastic. They are not be absorbed into the natural system they just float around within it. don¶t recognise them. Who eats the amphipods ± the little fishes and who eats the little fishes? That¶s you that is with your fish.000 items of plastic per sq km of sea surface. dead animals. Max¶s Restaurant and some shops in Hong Kong and Singapore. Why not ± because plastic is a combination of elements extracted form rude oil then re mixed up by men in white coats. rocks and minerals.000 particles of plastic per sq km of sea bed and 300. because from what I know. Barnacle. or natural mineral-based substances will over time biodegrade. But there is a downside. lugworm and amphipods hoover up the tiny plastic particles as they feed. Have you ever wondered why the plastic bags from ShoeMart have the word ³BIODEGRADABLE´ on it? I also noticed this with the plastic bags used by National Bookstore. such as plastic. will not. plastics are not biodegradable (others say it is but will take thousands of years in the process). I was curious about it. Even if you are a rock. chips and microscopic plastic particles. they are not absorbed into or changed by natural processes. The enzymes and the micro organisms responsible for breaking down organic materials that occur naturally such as plants. He estimates that there are 100. In its natural state raw crude oil will biodegrade but man-made petrochemical compounds made from oil.

Biodegradable? A bag from Max's Restaurant. . Made by EPI.A bag from SM Hypermart.

For plastic bags alone. We need to reduce the demand for plastics to decrease the amount of carbon dioxide that will be the byproduct of the manufacturing process. I just put it in my backpack. Locally. but you need not be old school to help. The EPI company who manufacture plastics for Max¶s uses Totally Degradable Plastics Additives (TDPAŒ). I personally believe that we should NOT use plastics anymore but utilize "green bags". I usually ask the cashier not to pack my items. When I buy some things. With garbage dumps overflowing and our oceans getting filled up with plastic products. Even if we make use of the "biodegradable" plastics. which enables plastics to degrade and in most cases biodegrade when discarded. or impose tax on plastic bags like that in Ireland that resulted to a 90 percent drop in plastic bag use during the past five . Made by EPI as well. I looked it up on the net and found out some things. we need to do our part to save our future. it is estimated that some 430. I got this from a fruit stand. reusing and reducing plastics. Max¶s and National Bookstore but it is still up to the people to use them responsibly. I am still unconvinced about this because Filipinos have a voracious consumption of plastic bags. This may have been a good start in the part of retailers like SM. It will still end our at dumpsites. We have to do our part in recycling. into environmentally benign products within a few months to a few years as compared to decades or longer for the same products made without the benefit of the technology.A plastic bag from Hong Kong. we have our "bayong". it is still not the best option. but will still take time.000 gallons of oil are needed to produce 100 million pieces of these omnipresent packaging items on the planet. in that way I am able to help decrease the demand and I know that i will be decreasing my less carbon footprint in the future. Consumers can also lobby local and national authorities to pass ordinances and laws that will ban plastic bags like what China and San Francisco did. So yes it is biodegradable.

and we must act by reliving our "bayong" days and saying NO to plastic now if we would want a better world to live in. Carole der was a time wen plastic bags (lotz wer from sm supermarkets) on unsanitary landfills. Just late last year. pollution prevention. I have always thought their bags are made of plastic. ms. But we must not wait for these bills and laws to be passed. Manny Villar filed Senate Bill No. biodegradable plastics June 2. rivers & even in manila bay r regularly seen on photos in newspapers & magazines«. carol lee wrote me tis note: Hello Eric. plastics. Sen. At the Senate. stopping pollution a colleague of mine. I noticed that the yellow shopping bags of SM (Shoe Mart) have µbiodegradable¶ printed on them. Until then. 2009 at 10:59 pm (cool green technology. 1802 requiring malls and stores to use environmentally-friendly shopping bags in place of plastic bags. stopping pollution) Tags: biodegradable plastic. sewer canals. environmental awareness. 1443 or the Plastic Bag Recycling Act. Miriam Defensor-Santiago filed Senate Bill No. All the best.years. while Sen. . How can one tell whether a bag is actually manufactured using biodegradable plastic or not? Thank you and looking forward to hearing from you on the above.

plastic bag pollution .

shoemart noiselessly introduced deir oxo-biodegradable plastic (obps) bags as well as d reusable green bags (can last up2 2yrs or 100 grocery trips.do we really need a plastic bag dat will last a hundred years? biodegradable plastic bags (sm obps bags decompose after 6 months) r cool coz of low enviro impact« . d question is«. accordingly) 2address d problem.

obps .

sm green bag biodegradable plastic bags can b identified fr deir labels. f plastic bags r not labeled so. see pix bellow. giordano bio-bag . den dey¶r not! giordano (a clothes shop) have bio-bags 4deir customers«.

Kaya naman eh yung Biodegradable plastic bags ng SM eh talagang advantage para sa environment. Nakaka-takot kaya. . dahil kapag bumuklat ako ng newspaper. cellophane wer made fr plants b4 petrochemical based plastics became d cheapest alternative. pilit nireremind satin na as much as possible eh i-recycle natin ang mga plastic bags sa kadahilanang mahirap i-dispose ang mga plastic. ³It¶s very safe and it¶s biodegradable.guess. it will unfortunately be considered as a plague. sm didn¶t spent too much more in deir biodegradable bags due 2d volume scale (only 12% more expensive according an sm insider)«. Kaya kayo. click on d link bellow: bottled water Bigla akong binatukan ng boredom. isip na kayo ng mga ways kung paano makakatulong sa environment. pple say dat biodegradable plastics r more expensive dan regular plastics«according 2a friend (who¶s familiar w/ d supplier of sm). When nature is the one who causes the difficulty. Himala nang bumasa ako sa business section. Baka matulad tayo sa ³Day After Tomorrow´. said. we need 2stop pollution fr plastics«« a friend from d phil. malamig dito sa Davao. malapit na ang summer. isa yan sa mga resulta ng global warming.in d past (wen brandenberger invented it in 1908). Kasi naman. laging nalilipad ang ilong ko sa entertainment category.. natuwa ako sa idea na ito ng SM. Which is also why. cost s always a reason 4pple 2justify dat we can pollute d earth«. pollution prevention roundtable (p3r) 4warded a plastic bottles ppt. using re-usable bags (cloth bags. Kaya ay naisipan kong magbasa ng newspaper (Philippine Daily Inquirer). etc. It has zero lead content and zero metal content. Nakaka-alarma talaga. So. Sa totoo lang. how many years or centuries pa bago tuluyang ma-disintegrate ang mga plastic. talagang nagbasa ako ng dyaryo. Something about SM with it¶s new biodegradable plastic bags. Lalo na ngayon na super duper laganap na ang global warming. It turns into powder and blends with the soil after a few months. Na-curious ka ba sa Biodegradable bags ng SM? Read more here.) s d best way 2go««in europe. ³It looks like plastic but it is not plastic. and infairview. 2view it.´ Oh diba? Bonggang-bongga ang matutulong nito sa environment natin. and will fully disintegrate in six months or less. one has 2pay 4plastic bags if u don¶t hav ur own re-usable bags«tis actually lessens d amt of plastic bag waste«.´ Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr. pero madalas. µbayong¶. lalo na sa environmental issue about trash. Isipin niyo. And yes.

its deterioration starts." Villanueva said. the SM Supermalls beg to differ. The SM Supermarket and the SM Department Store have already shifted to the use of biodegradable plastic bags. Philippines .00 large-sized plastic sando bags for the department store. Villanueva also said the biodegradable bags now being used by the supermarket and department stores of SM City Davao only have a life span of six months in contrast to the 100 year lifespan of ordinary plastic bags.Although most businessmen would rather opt for cheaper and lower overhead costs to post a bigger profit." Villanueva said. "There are about 1. "The bags that we are using right now is 12 percent more expensive than the ordinary plastic bags.SM Supermalls use more expensive plastic bags 05/08/2008 | 02:44 AM DAVAO CITY. assistant store manager of SM Supermarket." Melbert Villanueva. "The moment it is exposed to sunlight. a canvass bag that can be reused instead of the plastic bags. Villanueva added that aside from the plastic bags. "This is at no extra cost to our customers. We currently offer collections of some plastic items via your recycling collection box." Villanueva added. The following symbols are displayed on packaging and will assist you in identifying what the material is and if it is suitable for recycling: . "We use about 300. said in an interview last Tuesday. Plastic recycling symbols Plastic can take up to 500 years to degrade if not recycled There are many different types plastic and it is a difficult and expensive material to recycle." Villanueva said. SM Supermarket is also encouraging the use of the green bag.000 large-sized plastic sando bags for our grocery and about 200. at the Household Waste Recycling Centres and at the bring banks.5 million green bags that have already been released.

Symbol Polymer type Examples These tend to be transparent bottles that can be easily squashed: y y y Recyclable? Green recycling box Household Waste Recycling Centre Local recycling points PET Polyethylene Terepthalate y y y y y Fizzy drinks bottles Mineral water bottles Bottles for squash Cooking oil containers Oven-ready meal trays These tend to be opaque and coloured bottles: HDPE High Density Polyethylene y y y y y y Milk bottles Juice bottles Washing up liquid Bath and shower bottles y Green recycling box Household Waste Recycling Centre Local recycling points These tend to be transparent bottles that are more difficult to squash. Many types of packaging are made from this material: PP Polypropylene y y y Margarine tubs microwaveable meal trays . PVC Polyvinyl Chloride y y y y y y y y Food trays Cling film Bottles for squash Mineral water Bath and shower bottles y Green box Household Waste Recycling Centre Local recycling points LDPE Low Density Polyethylene Many types of packaging are made from this material: y y Supermarkets Carrier bags Bin liners Due to the mixture of compounds these plastic types are hard to recycle and are not recycled by Wakefield Council.

which and multiis often used in plastic plates materials and cups. Degradable plastic: An oil based plastic containing a chemical additive that undergoes significant change in its chemical structure causing it to break down into smaller particles. Biodegradable plastic bags and packaging aren't an end solution to replacing nondegradable plastic bags in supermarkets and retails stores for the following reasons: y y y They do not decompose in properly managed landfills. Biodegradable plastics Due to the mixture of compounds these plastic types are hard to recycle and are not recycled by Wakefield Council. . heat and moisture). Definitions of bioplastics: y y y Compostable plastic: A plastic that undergoes biological degradation during the composting process (up to 2-3 months in a windrow) to yield carbon dioxide. water. They support the throwaway mindset and the use of landfills as an acceptable disposal method They do not discourage over-use in the first place. The degradation process is triggered only when material is exposed to specific environmental conditions (such as UV. OTHER Any other plastics that do not fall into any of the above categories.Many types of packaging are made from this material: PS Polystyrene y y y y y y Yoghurt pots fast food containers foam meat or fish trays vending cups protective packaging for white goods and toys y Due to the mixture of compounds these plastic types are hard to recycle and are not recycled by Wakefield Council. Residues are not food matter for microorganisms and are not biodegradable or compostable. inorganic compounds and biomass at a rate consistent with other known compostable materials and leaves no visually distinguishable or toxic residues. All other resins An example is melamine. Biodegradable plastic: A degradable plastic in which the degradation must result from the action of naturally occurring microorganisms over a period of time (up to 2-3 years in a landfill).

Wired.com The Cooperative Research Centre for International Food Manufacture and Packaging Science (Melbourne) says it has developed "the most advanced biodegradable packaging in the world".Examples of bioplastics: y y y y y Scion (Rotorua. such as plates. foams.com New Zealand Potato Plate Company.com.potatopak. feel and flexibility of conventional plastic and can be used for a range of items. made from cornstarch. using commercial bioplastics such as poly lactic acid (PLA) and others. which intelligently or programmably biodegrade in soil or other environments. based in Blenheim. alan.theage.au) Plantic Technologies. (Ref: www. Scion has extensive experience in testing and formulation of biodegradable plastics and bioplastics. from cellophane to plant pots and medical devices. has developed Bioplastic packaging ± "biodegradable" food packaging that it says is cheap enough to compete with conventional plastic. Its products are sold through supermarket chains Progressive and Foodstuffs in the South Island. The used product is put straight on the compost heap and worm bin or fed to pigs. Their promotional material says that it is a new generation of bioplastics derived mainly from natural renewable resources. makes "100% biodegradable and compostable" disposable packaging. Australia. All products are made from food-grade raw materials with no preservatives or toxins of any form. It biodegrades at 33 degrees Fahrenheit. coatings. microwave.earthshell. Such products (eg plastic moulding compounds or masterbatches for extrusion or injection moulding etc) are now available on a commercial basis through a NZ manufacturer. Such additives are also useful in other polymer products such as adhesives. This product would be suited to some aspects of putrescible collections. and freezer use and says that they have excellent insulation qualities and fully degrade in days after use. Scion develops new materials and formulations for biodegradable plastics and other functional bioplastics by using renewable biobased resources and their process residues as sources of chemical or polymer additives. or composites and fibre based materials. The cornstarch±based material has the look.fernyhough@scionresearch. from potato starch. For more information on biodegradable and compostable food packaging go to www.novamont. including starch. It eventually disintegrates when exposed to water and in the long term disappears completely. Minimizing environmental impact it maintains the same characteristics of plastics but is "completely biodegradable within a composting cycle". For more information click here or contact Alan Fernyhough at the Scion.com Novamont.com and www. 26/06/02) . www. after exposure to both moisture and microorganisms in the soil. (Ref. NZ) has developed a range of commercial biodegradable plastic formulations compounded in NZ. food packaging and farming. The company is promoting the products as being suitable for all fast food. Italy manufactures Mater-Bi.

This situation stems largely from plastic products that did not biodegrade as expected. building materials. along with the advancement of technology.org for more details. It is a recognisable brand (that can be placed on the actual product. Ever since the introduction of 'biodegradable plastics' fifteen years ago. industry and academia which promotes the use and recovery of biodegradable polymeric materials. Go to the search function and type in packaging and here you will find comprehensive information on plant matter-based products. shatterproof. BPI aims to accomplish this goal through education. Polyethylene-Terephthalate (PET.S. However. PETE. textiles.Other contacts and resources y y y 'Green Plastics: An Introduction to the new science of Biodegradable Plastics. (Carbohydrates. packaging materials and sales literature) and builds credibility and recognition for products that meet the American Society for Testing and Materials Standards. carbonates soft drinks. HDPE. Plastic Dangers Common Plastics in the Home Plastic Dangers . PET has been approved as safe by the FDA and the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) when for single use.Go to www. Stevens The Institute for Local Self Reliance created the 'Carbohydrate Economy Clearinghouse' to provide accessible. The International Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) is a multi-stakeholder association of key individuals and groups from government. PETE) Category 1. confusion and scepticism about claims and product performance has prevailed. Building block: Ethylene glycol and dimethyl terephthalate Additives: UV stabilizers and flame retardants .bpiworld. cutting edge companies (and cooperatives) producing them and reports on developments in this rapidly expanding field. American Chemistry Council. Melamine. PU. ABS.org for more details. and many other industrial products.) Go to www. LDPE. paper. Canada. The 'Compostable Logo' has been designed for consumers. They call this new materials base a 'carbohydrate economy'. the building blocks of plant matter. clear. Europe and Japan. durable. EPS. regulators and others to reduce confusion about bioplastics. composters.carbohydrateeconomy. tough. obstructs oxygen. water and carbon dioxide. 'E. up-to-date information spanning all facets of the 'carbohydrate economy'. able to contain carbon dioxide. PC. adoption of scientifically based standards and cooperative activities with other organizations in the USA. can be converted into chemicals. yet were able to make claims because no scientifically based test methods and standards existed. standards have been developed. energy.A deeper look at some of the common plastics found in the home interior: PET.

plastic crates. food and non-food containers. salad dressing bottles. industrial strapping. composters. grill. moisture resistance. bin bags. oil bottles. good chemical resistance. liquid laundry detergent bottles. household product bottles. plastic sheets. Recyclable: High recycling rate Recycled products: Bags. Easy to form and process. cling film. tough. Low-density Polyethylene (LDPE) Category 4. reproductive problems. tough. and mailbox posts. juice. panels. sheet. breakable. lumber. microwave dishes soft drink. mouthwash. water. Offgasses VOCs Products: Packaging. detergent and cleaner containers. pens. and film. benches. Building block: Carbon and hydrogen Additives: Solvents Plastic Dangers Health/Leaching: Documented as safe according to guidelines. trainers. low weight. Polystyrene in cavity wall insulation and building materials must conform to fire . recycling containers. juice cartons. bins. Offgasses VOCs Products: Flexible bottles. recycling bins. Offgasses VOCs Products: Opaque milk cartons.Plastic Dangers Health: Liver problems. luggage. suitable for packaging products that have a short life span. Recyclable: Yes Recycled products: Bin liners. floor tile. foam ignites easily. car parts (luggage racks. worktops. highly flammable. known as Styrofoam. sheets & film. plastic food bags. gas permeable. beer. strong. bumper. Building block: Carbon and hydrogen Plastic Dangers Health/Leaching: Documented as safe according to guidelines. picnic tables. strong. water bottles. can be manufactured as a foam or rigid. playground slides. opaque/translucent. lumber. furniture. sleeping bag stuffing. fencing. food jars. door panels). personal care bottles. furniture. carpet. packaging. chemical resistance. Leaching: Reuse causes leaching into food and water. lining of milk cartons. Recyclable: Yes Recycled products: Drainage pipe. cling film. water left in containers for long periods release higher concentration levels of antimony. upholstery. peanut butter. mouthwash bottles. low density. bin bags. coat filling. drink bottles. Polystyrene (PS) Expandable Polystyrene (EPS) Category 6. pipes. flexible material. toys. fuse boxes High-density Polyethylene (HDPE) Category 2. fabric. tiles. linked to cancer. salad dressing. Good insulator at low temperatures. doghouses. buckets. PC parts.

µTritan copolyester¶ . Environment: Production vapours erode ozone. a carcinogen. enlargement of reproductive organs. refillable water bottles. Lightweight. bottles. dummies. polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Offgasses VOCs Recyclable: Can be downcycled into lower grade products or mixed with virgin materials. packaging. 1. easier to recycle than PVC Recycled products: Light switches. 1.g. packing. effects child growth. neural and nervous system problems. Leaching: Leaches styrene into the air. inflammation and heart disease. Products: CDs. it is a major contributor to marine debris and recorded to cause starvation to marine wildlife and birds. Detected in 93% of urine samples. styrene. insulin resistance. baby bottles. electronics. Products: Foam insulation. refillable milk bottles. disposable cups. plastic utensils. methylene chloride. blood of pregnant women. Combined butadiene and styrene (in ABS) take on the characteristics of benzene. Leaching: Heating releases more toxins than room temperature. CD case. plates. disposable cutlery. Polycarbonate (PC) Category 7. single use or refillable Building block: Bisphenol A (BPA) Additives: Highly toxic phosgene. hormone disrupter. Requires solvents for production.regulations. hard. egg boxes. Building block: Benzene. tetrachloroethane and chlorobenzene. A report detailed that EPS is second place in materials that have the highest environmental impact. chloroform. rulers. Plastic Dangers Health: Neural and behavioural effects. female reproductive problems.2-dichloroethylene. tin can lining. cups. furniture foam packaging. break resistance. Many US states have banned Polystyrene. trays. Alternatives: BPA free plastic. hormone disrupter. clear. Present in second hand cigarette smoke and car exhaust fumes. durable. Foam does not easily decompose. microwave dishes. Leaches into food containers where hot oil is present in food. insulation. food storage containers. 6 billion pounds of BPA are produced and used annually. genetic damage. and water supply pipes. low scrap value. take away containers. Epoxy resins are used to line metal products such as canned foods. bottle tops. disposable water bottles. Reproductive & development problems.3-butadiene Plastic Dangers Health: Benzene is a known carcinogen. highest rate present in children and infants due to objects being put in their mouth e. vents. Strong cleaners increase leaching rate. Foetus exposure is linked to breast cancer as an adult. takeaway containers. Polystyrene is linked to cancer. derived from chlorine gas. Detected in breast milk. drinking glasses. egg boxes Recyclable: Difficult to recycle. bowls. building materials.

pigments. PAHs and dioxins. Leaching: Documented as safe according to guidelines. surfactants. halogenated flame retardants and pigments. hard. moulded furniture. Offgasses VOCs Products: Insulation. hydrogen cyanide. mattresses. soy foam is not biodegradable). impervious and resilient. ceiling installations. Offgasses VOCs Products: Guttering. the remaining 80% is made of PU. butadiene. carbon dioxide. Fire resistant. Leaching: Leaches into the body through the skin and inhalation. surface coatings. drainage pipes. Degrades when exposed to acetone. versatile. Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) used for building insulation is not known to contain formaldehyde. Highly flammable and highly toxic Building block: Organic compounds containing carboxyl groups. underlay. stable. renewable material. isocyanates. This combats the damage to marine life from marine waste. diamines. mouldings. flooring. toluene. emulsifiers. adhesives. toluene and organotin compounds. Building block: Melamine. ABS is a plastic resin. all three substances are associated carcinogens. ground into flakes and processed into casing.g. Plastic Dangers Health: Incineration releases hazardous chemicals. A new modified polyurethane plastic has been developed that sinks to the sea bottom and degrades in sea water in 20 days (similar to dissolvable stitches). non fossil fuel. foamed products contain chemical catalysts. plumbing pipes. soft foam. Recyclable: Yes Alternatives: Now include 20% soy based foam (non toxic. benzene. car interiors. polyols and diisocyanates. and methylene chloride gas. formaldehyde. electronic equipment cases Recyclable: Yes Recyclable products: Downcycled into lesser grade products e. car bumpers. Good heat. CFCs (both ozone-depleting). carpet. Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene (ABS) Not categorised in the original resin identification system. Additives: Stabilisers. ozone depleting chemicals or leach into the air or earth (studies ongoing). sealants. impact and chemical resistance. isocyanates.Polyurethane (PU) Not categorised in the original resin identification system. Hazardous by-products. cured by cool temperatures. phosgene. garden furniture Melamine (thermosetting plastic) Not categorised in the original resin identification system. fire barrier. formaldehyde. styrene Plastic Dangers Health: Highly toxic in vapour and liquid form. easy to mould when warm. Building block: Acrylonitrile. urea . lining.

Formica heat resistant worktop.[6] this test has proven extremely difficult to perform. typically in the form of disposable food service items. The use of bioactive compounds compounded with swelling agents ensures that. Leaching: Dishware not suited to high temperatures as begins to break down. Biodegradation of plastics can be achieved by enabling microorganisms in the environment to metabolize the molecular structure of plastic films to produce an inert humus-like material that is less harmful to the environment.[4] Currently the most accurate standard test method for anaerobic environments is the ASTM D5511 . The specific subcommittee responsibility for overseeing these standards falls on the Committee D20. 3D shapes). when combined with heat and moisture. and films. Biodegradable plastics typically are produced in two forms: injection molded (solid. Products: Floor and wall tiles. white boards. they expand the plastic's molecular structure and allow the bio-active compounds to metabolize and neutralize the plastic. or petroleum-based plastics which utilize an additive. splashback Recyclable: Difficult to recycle.[3] and the ASTM D7081 . mixed with composite materials.[2] ASTM D6868 .05 Standard Specification for Non-Floating Biodegradable Plastics in the Marine Environment. Currently.96 on Environmentally Degradable Plastics and Biobased Products [1]. Standard specifications create a pass or fail scenario whereas standard test methods identify the specific testing parameters for facilitating specific biodegradable tests on plastics. Scientific definitions of biodegradable plastic In the United States.03 Standard Specification for Biodegradable Plastics Used as Coatings on Paper and Other Compostable Substrates. fire retardant fabrics and upholstery. there are three such ASTM standard specifications which mostly address biodegradable plastics in composting type environments.Plastic Dangers Health: Recorded as the cause of pet death through food contamination (wheat gluten) with symptoms of renal failure. foam.02 Standard Test Method for Determining Anaerobic Biodegradation of Plastic Materials Under High-Solids Anaerobic-Digestion Conditions. typically organic fruit packaging and collection bags for leaves and grass trimmings. the ASTM D6400-04 Standard Specification for Compostable Plastics.[5] Another standard test method for testing in anaerobic environments is the ASTM D5526 . . decomposes with heat exposure Biodegradable plastics are plastics that will decompose in natural aerobic (composting) and anaerobic (landfill) environments.94(2002) Standard Test Method for Determining Anaerobic Biodegradation of Plastic Materials Under Accelerated Landfill Conditions. ASTM International is the authoritative body for defining biodegradable standards. and agricultural mulch. commercial filters. which are plastics whose components are derived from renewable raw materials. They may be composed of either bioplastics. The current ASTM standards are defined as standard specifications and standard test methods.

a 16-year-old boy reportedly isolated two plastic-consuming bacteria. it is likely that bacteria will evolve the ability to use other synthetic plastics as well. However. and is rarely recycled. This has already happened with nylon: two types of nylon eating bacteria. Disposing of biodegradable plastics made from natural materials in anaerobic (landfill) environments will result in the plastic lasting for hundred of years. There is much debate about the total carbon.[8] . including truly biodegradable plastics. Of course. biodegradable plastics from natural materials. however. Some landfills today capture the methane biogas for use in clean inexpensive energy. The two ASTM standard specifications which are used in the legislation are ASTM D6400 and D7081. There is concern that another greenhouse gas. sequester CO2 during the phase when they're growing.The current California legislation AB 1972 ensures accurate environmental advertising of plastics by allowing only the use of terms that can be verified by an American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) standard specification. therefore. might be released when any biodegradable material. Some critics claim that a potential environmental disadvantage of certified biodegradable plastics is that the carbon that is locked up in them is released into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas. This legislation does not include ASTM standard test methods. The US EPA has mandated strict standards for landfill design and construction to prevent biodegradation in a landfill in the first place. It is also possible that bacteria will eventually develop the ability to degrade plastics. only to release CO2 when they're decomposing. Flavobacteria and Pseudomonas. conditions found in professionally managed composting facilities. fossil fuel and water usage in processing biodegradable plastics from natural materials and whether they are a negative impact to human food supply. Products passing these ASTM specifications can use the term compostable on the product label. The intentional production of methane from landfills is. Traditional plastics made from non-renewable fossil fuels lock up much of the carbon in the plastic as opposed to being utilized in the processing of the plastic. certified biodegradable plastics require a specific environment of moisture and oxygen to biodegrade.[7] [edit] Environmental benefits of biodegradable plastics depend upon proper disposal Biodegradable plastics are not a panacea. However. the rare exception and not the rule for most municipal solid waste. methane. degrades in an anaerobic (landfill) environment. While not a solution to the disposal problem. were found in 1975 to possess enzymes (nylonase) capable of breaking down nylon. such as vegetable crop derivatives or animal products. incinerating non-biodegradable plastics will release carbon dioxide as well. The carbon is permanently trapped inside the plastic lattice. Methane production from these specially managed landfill environments are typically captured and burned to negate the release of methane in the environment. so there is no net gain in carbon dioxide emissions[citation needed]. In 2008.

partly because they are not widely enough produced to achieve large economies of scale. making it difficult . Starch-based bioplastics produced from sustainable farming methods can be almost carbon neutral but could have a damaging effect on soil. Fully biodegradable plastics are more expensive. and liquids). When the oil is cracked 4% is used for the plastic industry. The novel. Polylactic acid (PLA) is another 100% compostable biopolymer which can fully degrade above 60C in an industrial composting facility. another 4% is used in the generation of your consumer product. according to the Society of Plastics Engineers. [edit] Environmental concerns. to create a plastic product that can biodegrade 100 times faster than normal plastic. The EPA reported in 2003 that only 5. benefits Over 200 million tons of plastic are manufactured annually around the world. water usage and quality. Certain additives when added to conventional plastics attract the microbes to the molecular structure by allowing the hydrocarbons to be sensed once again by microbial colonies. written in 1971. re-using the plot of the first episode of their Doomwatch series. [edit] Advantages and disadvantages Under proper conditions biodegradable plastics can degrade to the point where microorganisms can metabolise them. When oil is in the ground. the microbes attach themselves onto the hydrocarbons consuming the oil and creating natural gas. and result in higher food prices. and be let loose in a major city. [edit] Mechanisms Materials such as a polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) biopolymer are completely compostable in an industrial compost facility.[9][unreliable source?] Of those 200 million tons. Mutant 59: The Plastic Eater. although this is increasing rapidly. 26 million are manufactured in the United States. if the plastic industry did not use this 4% the 4% would be considered waste and be thrown away or removed and dumped into a waste disposal facility. During this phase of cracking the organic compound which attracts the microbes to the molecular structure of the plastic is burnt out. the creators of the Cybermen. Degradation of oil-based biodegradable plastics may release previously stored carbon as carbon dioxide.8% of those 26 million tons of plastic waste are recycled. wet paper. Much of the reason for disappointing plastics recycling goals is that conventional plastics are often commingled with organic wastes (food scraps. The organic compound which is burnt out and other proprietary compounds which increase quorum sensing of the microbes and pH balance for the microbes are placed into the molecular structure of the plastic. 50% of which is methane gas.The latter possibility was in fact the subject of a cautionary novel by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis (screenwriter). is the story of what could happen if a bacterium were to evolve²or be artificially cultured²to eat plastics.

therefore. a significant waste disposal strategy is stalled. In June 2009. The use of biodegradable plastics. making municipal composting a significant tool to divert large amounts of otherwise nonrecoverable waste from landfills. the entire batch of organic waste is "contaminated" with small bits of plastic that spoil primequality compost humus. Food scraps and wet. the Federal Trade Commission charged two companies with making unsupported marketing claims regarding biodegradability. Composters. is seen as an enabler for the complete recovery of large quantities of municipal sold waste (via aerobic composting) that were are heretofore unrecoverable by other means except land filling or incineration. therefore. More municipalities can divert significant quantities of waste from overburdened landfills since the entire waste stream is now biodegradable and therefore easier to process. non-recyclable paper) is a potential strategy for recovering large quantities of waste and dramatically increase community recycling goals. and wet. So. the state of California passed regulation banning companies from claiming their products are biodegradable without proper scientific certification from a third-party laboratory. will not accept mixed organic waste streams unless they are completely devoid of nondegradable plastics. However. 2009 that a director of a company that manufactured 'biodegradable' disposable diapers (who also approved the company's advertising) had been knowingly making false and misleading claims about biodegradability[11]. If even a small amount of conventional plastics were to be commingling with organic materials. Biodegradable plastics can replace the non-degradable plastics in these waste streams. non-recyclable paper comprises 50 million tons of municipal solid waste. proponents of biodegradable plastics[who?] argue that these materials offer a solution to this problem.[10]. Certified biodegradable plastics combine the utility of plastics (lightweight. yard trimmings.[12] . [edit] Confusion over proper definition of terms Until recently there were few legal standards regarding marketing claims surrounding the use of the term 'biodegradable'. these proponents argue that certified biodegradable plastics can be readily commingled with other organic wastes. Commercial composting for all mixed organics then becomes commercially viable and economically sustainable. resistance. thereby enabling composting of a much larger position of nonrecoverable solid waste. Rather than worrying about recycling a relatively small quantity of commingled plastics. On the other hand.and impractical to recycle the underlying polymer without expensive cleaning and sanitizing procedures. relative low cost) with the ability to completely and fully biodegrade in a compost facility. because of a relatively small quantity of nondegradable plastics. In 2007. The Federal Court of Australia declared on March 30. composting of these mixed organics (food scraps.

For the US to meet its current output of plastics production with BPs. but recent developments in the commercial production of PLA by NatureWorks has eliminated some dependence fossil fuel based energy by supplanting it with wind power and biomass-driven strategies. et al. They report making a kilogram of PLA with only 27. it would require 1. Gerngross reports a 2.[edit] Energy costs for production Various researchers have undertaken extensive life cycle assessments of biodegradable polymers to determine whether these materials are more energy efficient than polymers made by conventional fossil fuel-based means.7 MJ/kg respectively[18].[22] Many biodegradable polymers that come from renewable resources (i. and subsequent .[15]. but these values include the embedded energy of the feedstock because it is based on fossil fuel.62 square meters per kilogram produced[23].[21] The use of alternative crops other than corn.7 from two sources[16][17]. is still in development today. PHA. Furthermore.[20] or by utilizing food waste as feedstock. it is important to realize the youth of alternative technologies. Technology to produce PHA. and energy consumption can be further reduced by eliminating the fermentation step.2 kg FFE[19].6 MJ/kg in their next generation plants. for instance. et al. such as sugar cane from Brazil.e. estimates that the fossil fuel energy required to produce a kilogram of polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) is 50. Polylactide (PLA) was estimated to have a fossil fuel energy cost of 54-56. Biodegradable bags are bags made from materials that are able to decompose under specified conditions of light.9 and 73.4 MJ/kg. moisture. PLA) also compete with food production. and oxygen are needed: degradation is slow in landfills. Many stores and companies are beginning to use different types of biodegradable bags to comply with perceived environmental benefits.[1] Every year approximately 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide. as the primary feedstock is currently corn. In contrast. it is always important to consider how much impact this large scale production could have on food prices and the opportunity cost of using land in this fashion versus alternatives.[3][4] Plastic bags can be made Oxo-biodegradable by being manufactured from normal polymer with an additive which causes accelerated breakdown of the molecular chains. polypropylene and high density polyethylene require 85.65 total fossil fuel energy equivalent (FFE) required to produce a single kilogram of PHA.manufacturing of PHAs by fermentation in Brazil enjoys a favorable energy consumption scheme where bagasse is used as source of renewable energy.. This information does not take into account the feedstock energy.2 MJ of fossil fuel-based energy and anticipate that this number will drop to 16. starch-based. moisture. and economic cost. Gerngross assesses that the decision to proceed forward with any biodegradable polymer alternative will need to take into account the priorities of society with regard to energy. and oxygen.[2] Often composting conditions or exposure to sun. are expected to lower energy requirements. who estimate a value between 5059 MJ/kg. which can be obtained from non-fossil fuel based methods.[13][14] which coincides with another estimate by Akiyama. while polypropylene only requires 2. environment. Research done by Gerngross. While this space requirement could be feasible.

[citation needed] Biodegradable plastic bags require more plastic per bag. tear-resistant. The Standards appropriate to hydro-biodegradable plastics are not appropriate for oxobiodegradable plastics and vice-versa [edit] Companies Different companies use different kinds of biodegradable bags. It gives the bags renewable raw material. a company named "Doo Bandits" has created biodegradable bags used for picking up dog waste. Simply calling something . Multinational baking giant Grupo Bimbo SAB de CV of Mexico City claims to have been the first to make "Oxo Biodegradable metalized polypropylene snack bag". [edit] Materials Most bags are made from plastic combined with corn-based materials. without clarification that these products require composting conditions to achieve endstate.[6] The Supermarket Chain Aldi Süd in Germany offers biodegradable Ecovio bags. "This is the most used and abused and misused word in our dictionary right now. waterproof. and science consultant to the Biodegradable Plastics Institute. end state results. Ecoflex bags are flexible.biodeg.[5] In addition to that. a chemical engineer at Michigan State University in East Lansing. because the material is not as strong.bioassimilation. or polycaprolactone. conditions required. or weither the residue contains harmful by products as outlined in the pass/fail ASTM D6400 standard. In most cases.org). The Trade Association for the Oxo-biodegradable plastics industry is the Oxo-biodegradable Plastics Association (www.[2][3][8] "The public looks at biodegradable as something magical. and suitable for printing. making them biodegradable. Many stores use biodegradable bags. according to Ramani Narayan. or "Hydro-biodegradable" by being manufactured from vegetable-based materials." even though the term is mostly meaningless. organic materials.[citation needed] Many bags are also made from paper. which will certify products tested according to ASTM D6954 or (as from 1st Jan 2010) UAE 5009:2009 The Trade Associations for the Hydro-biodegradable plastics industry are the Biodegradable Products Institute] (BPI) "European Bioplastics" and SPIBioplastics Council" Plastics are certified as biodegradable under composting conditions in the United States if they comply with ASTM D6400. and in Europe EN13432.[7] All of these examples show where companies have claimed biodegradable products without qualification of how long. the products will be placed in traditional landfills and there will be no environmental benefits and no improvement in degradation of the product. The pros and cons of these two types of plastics will be found on the websites of the Trade Associations as above.

Another problem is that traditional plastics are manufactured from non-renewable resources ± oil. GUIDES FOR THE USE OF ENVIRONMENTAL MARKETING CLAIMS. oxygen. Our whole world seems to be wrapped in plastic.´ with no qualification or other disclosure.000 tonnes are imported. SPI Resin identification code 7 is applicable. time frame and end results in order to be within US Trade Requirements. In Australia around 1 million tonnes of plastic materials are produced each year and a further 587. is proving to be a major environmental problem. Almost every product we buy. accounting for over a third of the consumption of raw plastic materials ± Australians use 6 billion plastic bags every year! Plastic packaging provides excellent protection for the product. The trash bags are customarily disposed of in incineration facilities or at sanitary landfills that are managed in a way that inhibits degradation by minimizing moisture and oxygen. most of the food we eat and many of the liquids we drink come encased in plastic. The FTC provides an example: Example 1: A trash bag is marketed as ³degradable. biodegradable plastics break up into small pieces that can more easily enter the food chain by being consumed." In the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Plastics that break down . Many biodegradable polymers have the potential to contaminate the recycling of other more common polymers. [edit] Marketing Qualification Since many of these plastics require access to sunlight. The marketer relies on soil burial tests to show that the product will decompose in the presence of water and oxygen. coal and natural gas. the marketer does not possess adequate substantiation that the bags will degrade in a reasonably short period of time in a landfill.biodegradable and not defining in what environment it is going to be biodegradable and in what time period it is going to degrade is very misleading and deceptive. however. for those disposed of in landfills. Degradable bags need to be kept separate from the normal recycling stream." [9] [edit] Recycling In. or lengthy periods of time to achieve degradation or biodegradation the Federal Trade Commission's. commonly called the "green guide"[10] require proper marking of these products to show their performance limits. Packaging is the largest market for plastics. Lasting forever.plant scrap can often be recycled but post-consumer sorting and recycling is difficult. it is cheap to manufacture and seems to last forever. The claim is therefore deceptive Since there are no pass fail tests for "biodegradable" plastic bags manufactures must print on the product the environmental requirements for biodegradation to take place. Degradation will be irrelevant for those trash bags that are incinerated and.

However. the lactic acid is chemically treated to cause the molecules of lactic acid to link up into long chains or polymers. as with PLA. Bacteria are simply grown in culture. and the plastic is then harvested. biochemical researchers and engineers have long been seeking to develop biodegradable plastics that are made from renewable resources. articles made from starch will swell and deform when exposed to moisture. The reason traditional plastics are not biodegradable is because their long polymer molecules are too large and too tightly bonded together to be broken apart and assimilated by decomposer organisms. a monomer. Cereal plants and tubers normally contain starch in large proportions.In an effort to overcome these shortcomings. which bond together to form a plastic called polylactide (PLA). Finally. This problem can be overcome by modifying the starch into a different polymer. First. Starch can be processed directly into a bioplastic but. plastics based on natural plant polymers derived from wheat or corn starch have molecules that are readily attacked and broken down by microbes. with each country having its own. wheat or potatoes. The requirements range from 90 per cent to 60 per cent decomposition of the product within 60 to 180 days of being placed in a standard composting environment. PHA is significantly more expensive to produce and. . because it is soluble in water. Plastics can be produced from starch Starch is a natural polymer. PLA can be used for products such as plant pots and disposable nappies. It has been commercially available since 1990. However. it is not having any success in replacing the widespread use of traditional petrochemical plastics. starch is harvested from corn. which then manufacture the plastic in their own cells. The term biodegradable means that a substance is able to be broken down into simpler substances by the activities of living organisms. granular carbohydrate produced by plants during photosynthesis and it serves as the plant's energy store. and certain blends have proved successful in medical implants. because PLA is significantly more expensive than conventional plastics it has failed to win widespread consumer acceptance. Going one step further. What¶s the cost? Unfortunately. such as plants. as yet. It is a white. limiting its use. There are many different standards used to measure biodegradability. scientists have taken genes from this kind of bacteria and stitched them into corn plants. and therefore is unlikely to persist in the environment. Plastics can also be produced by bacteria Another way of making biodegradable polymers involves getting bacteria to produce granules of a plastic called polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) inside their cells. sutures and drug delivery systems because of their capacity to dissolve away over time. then microorganisms transform it into lactic acid.

biodegradable plastic products currently on the market are from 2 to 10 times more expensive than traditional plastics. which is cheap to produce. Landfill sites aren't compost heaps To maximise the benefit of the new bioplastics we¶ll have to modify the way we throw away our garbage ± to simply substitute new plastics for old won¶t be saving space in our landfills. shopping bags. scientists can alter polymer mixtures to enhance the properties of the final product. Mulch film from biodegradable plastics The CRC has developed a mulch film for farmers. then the solution lies in investigating low-cost options to produce them. Mulch films are laid over the ground around crops. an almost pure starch product will dissolve upon contact with water and then biodegrade rapidly. scientists can make a waterproof product that degrades within 4 weeks after it has been buried in the soil or composted. cheaper and it enriches the soil with carbon. in a variety of blends with other more expensive biodegradable polymers to produce a variety of flexible and rigid plastics. Normally. traditional plastics would cost more and biodegradable plastics might be more competitive (Box 1: Life cycle analysis). However. when we buy a plastic bag we don¶t pay for its collection and waste disposal after we use it. Gardeners and farmers can place potted plants directly into the ground. Biodegradable and affordable If cost is a major barrier to the uptake of biodegradable plastics. to control weed growth and retain moisture. farmers use polyethylene black plastic that is pulled up after harvest and trucked away to a landfill (taking with it topsoil humus that sticks to it). It¶s easier. In Australia. For example. bread bags. Different polymer blends for different products Depending on the application. These are being made into µfilm¶ and µinjection moulded¶ products such as plastic wrapping. and forget them. If we added up these sorts of associated costs. the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for International Food Manufacture and Packaging Science is looking at ways of using basic starch. Pots you can plant Another biodegradable plastic product is a plant pot produced by injection moulding. eliminating double handling and recycling of conventional plastic containers. The pots will break down to carbon dioxide and water. field trials using the biodegradable mulch film on tomato and capsicum crops have shown it performs just as well as polyethylene film but can simply be ploughed into the ground after harvest. For example.Indeed. . But environmentalists argue that the cheaper price of traditional plastics does not reflect their true cost when their full impact is considered. mulch films and plant pots. By blending quantities of other biodegradable plastics into the starch.

Consequently. What is biodegradable plastic made of? they may be composed of either bioplastics. which are plastics whose components are derived from renewable raw materials. Biodegradation of plastics can be achieved by enabling microorganisms in the environment to metabolize the molecular structure of plastic films to produce an inert humus-like material that is less harmful to the environment. Part of this success was due to the use of biodegradable plastics used in the packaging of fast food. it may well be possible in the near future to set up large-scale composting lines in which packaging and the material it contains can be composted as one. they expand the plastic's molecular structure and allow the bio-active compounds to metabolise and neutralize the plastic.Although there is a popular misconception that biodegradable materials break down in landfill sites. the entire mixed waste-stream ends up in landfill. Organic waste makes up almost half the components of landfill in Australia. when combined with heat and moisture. there¶s a way. which are essential requirements for microbial decomposition. Bioplastics (also called organic plastics) are a form of plastics derived from renewable biomass sources. you only have to look at the recycling success of the Sydney Olympics to see that where there¶s a will. . The resulting compost could be channelled into plant production. By ensuring that biodegradable plastics are used to package all our organic produce. decrease the quantities of plastic waste going into landfills and increase the recycling of other organic components that would normally end up in landfills. they don't. Composting the packaging with its contents Compost may be the key to maximising the real environmental benefit of biodegradable plastics. Of this. which in turn might be redirected into growing the starch to produce more biodegradable plastics. For biodegradable plastics to effectively decompose they need to be treated like compost. making the composting of food scraps an economic proposition as it eliminated the need for expensive separation of packaging waste prior to processing. This minimises oxygen and moisture. an impressive 76 per cent was collected and recycled. One of the big impediments to composting our organic waste is that it is so mixed up with nondegradable plastic packaging that it is uneconomic to separate them. More than 660 tonnes of waste was generated each day at its many venues. An Olympic effort ± recycling 76 per cent of waste For anyone who thinks such schemes aren¶t feasible. The use of bio-active compounds compounded with swelling agents ensures that. or petroleum-based plastics. With intelligent use. Rubbish deposited in landfill is compressed and sealed under tonnes of soil. these new plastics have the potential to reduce plastic litter.

caps. Degradation of petroleum-based biodegradable plastics may release of previously stored carbon as carbon dioxide. wraps. Main uses: Bottles. But in the real world. plastics recycling. Where can we put all those plastics? Plastics and recycling have a complicated relationship. Main uses: Food tubs.such as vegetable oil. bags. ‡ Symbol #6 PS: Polystyrene (often called Styrofoam). Fully biodegradable plastics are more expensive. . corn starch. Materials such as polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) biopolymer are completely biodegradable. Main use: Beverage bottles. ‡ Symbol #2 HDPE: High-density polyethylene. or vinyl. packing. ‡ Symbol #4 LDPE: Low-density polyethylene.. Main uses: Bags. partly because they are not widely enough produced to achieve large economies of scale. All plastics are technically recyclable. Main use: Bottles. pea starch or microbiota.. Main uses: Food trays. ‡ Symbol #3 V or PVC: Polyvinyl chloride. Main use: Bags. ‡ Symbol #7 Other: Usually polycarbonate. or bio-based plastics. Recycling resources Common plastics used in packaging: ‡ Symbol #1 PETE or PET: Polyethylene terephthalate. ‡ Symbol #5 PP: Polypropylene.

Here's what you should know: ‡ Plastics lag behind. less than 6 percent of all waste plastic gets recycled.Plastics and recycling have a complicated relationship. caps. Main uses: Food tubs. Plastics recycling seems to confuse and frustrate consumers more than any other type of recycling. has a recycling rate below 1 percent. plastic containers seldom get recycled back into new containers. plastics recycling has many limitations. ‡ Logos can mislead. says Consumers Union. ‡ Symbol #5 PP: Polypropylene. . Reasons for low national plastics recycling rates include the complexity of sorting and processing. Recycling resources Common plastics used in packaging: ‡ Symbol #1 PETE or PET: Polyethylene terephthalate. Main uses: Bags. Plastic products and packaging permeate our society. some consumers see the familiar "chasing-arrows" recycling logo on a plastic item and assume they can recycle it. the plastics industry introduced logos and numbers for plastics used in packaging (see box). Unlike aluminum cans or cardboard boxes. ‡ Symbol #3 V or PVC: Polyvinyl chloride. ‡ Symbol #2 HDPE: High-density polyethylene. In 1988. according to the American Chemistry Council. Instead. ‡ Symbol #4 LDPE: Low-density polyethylene. Main use: Bags.S. Not surprisingly. at 24 percent. due to high processing costs and lack of markets. Main uses: Bottles. or vinyl. So plastic recycling does matter. says the U. But many plastics emblazoned with the logo ² such as big chunks of polystyrene (Styrofoam) packing material or lids for plastic containers ² are not accepted by residential recycling programs. Nationally. All plastics are technically recyclable. But in the real world. compared with recycling rates of 50 percent for paper. and most plastics come from fossil fuels. Plastic bottles have the highest recycling level among consumer plastics. waste plastic must be "downcycled" into secondary recycled products such as textiles and composite lumber for decking. The stated intent was to make it easier to identify plastics for recycling. a plastic under scrutiny because of health concerns. Main use: Beverage bottles. Polyvinyl chloride. bags. unfavorable economics and consumer confusion about which plastics can be recycled. Environmental Protection Agency. 37 percent for metals and 22 percent for glass. wraps.

‡ Symbol #6 PS: Polystyrene (often called Styrofoam). Main uses: Food trays. or bio-based plastics. ‡ Reducing and reusing trump recycling. ‡ The Others don't mix well. are not designed for long-term reuse. certain plastics with the same number cannot be recycled together because they require a different heating and molding process. Plastic containers labeled "Other. No area recycling programs accept plastic caps or lids. because the bottle cannot easily be flattened and takes up more space. are usually polycarbonate." or #7." but the recycling industry can deal with them better if you take them back to grocery-store collection bins. Never put a loose bag in your recycling bin. Some residential recycling programs accept "bags of bags. or PLA. Reduce the number of plastic bags you accept. But an increasing number is made from new bioplastics. Biodegradable Plastic The quest for impermanence . Single-use beverage bottles. Keep all #7 containers. but some shipping stores accept them for reuse. usually #1. A strong recycling market exists for plastic bags. Plastic plant pots also are not normally recycled. Recycling programs often keep things simple by asking for "all plastic bottles" or "plastic bottles and round dairy tubs. municipal composting programs could some day accept them. Polystyrene packing peanuts cannot easily be recycled. ‡ Lids and caps go in the garbage. Several Seattle-area recycling programs now tell residents to ignore the numbers. Main use: Bottles. out of your recycling bin. Always check with your program to confirm the materials it accepts. it can clog equipment at the sorting plant. packing. Although bioplastics will not easily degrade in a modern landfill. Save money and conserve resources with a reusable water bottle (metal and #2 or #4 plastic are best). ‡ Symbol #7 Other: Usually polycarbonate. such as corn-based polylactic acid. but a few area nurseries take them back to use again. To add to the confusion. Don't recycle plastic bags marked "biodegradable" unless specifically approved by the recycler. But you don't need to remove labels or the small plastic rings on the necks when you recycle plastic bottles. ‡ Bags have a future. and reuse them. including PLA." for example. or use durable tote bags. Leaving the cap on a plastic bottle also makes collection and processing more difficult.

´ Some so-called ³biodegradable´ plastics. as advertised. most of the packages I get in the mail are still filled with Styrofoam. Words like ³decompose. but leaves countless tiny particles of plastic that have a mass only slightly less than that of the original product. this robustness can be a problem. are made of a blend of starch derivatives and conventional petroleum-based polymers. and everything else²will still be pretty much intact deep in landfills all over the world. dissolve quite readily. It did not cause any ill effects as far as I can tell. I suppose that was a bit stupid. I suppose the charitable view is that I¶m watching recycling in action: no doubt these very pellets have been used countless times before. And all those parts that don¶t break down continue taking up space without contributing any nutrients to the soil²in fact. But allow me to digress for a moment. we¶d proven that this new packing material did. for instance. say. Hundreds of years from now. the very best thing²is plastic that will decompose. and (if I keep with the program) will be used countless times again. in some responsible manner. Having a Breakdown Resistance to decomposition is often a virtue. they may actually contribute toxins. And although recycling helps considerably. they explained. The new filler material. and we were all happy that we¶d no longer drown in a sea of Styrofoam. a certain mail-order computer retailer announced that it was abandoning Styrofoam (polystyrene) packing peanuts in its shipments and switching to environmentally friendly cornstarch peanuts instead. can we safely say we¶re talking about an environmentally safe product? The answer to both questions is ³not necessarily. toys. moist soil breaks down the starches in these materials. Remarkably. So. was not merely biodegradable. that¶s somehow unsatisfying. Nevertheless. Suppose you put a piece of plastic in a compost heap and found no visible trace of it six months later²does that mean it has biodegraded? And if so. in retrospect. naturally.´ ³degrade. you don¶t want. in many instances. Some of my coworkers and I wondered if that meant you could eat them too.In the mid-1990s. but still«who knows where that cornstarch has been? So I do not recommend that you try this yourself. the first thing we did was to pop the cornstarch peanuts in our mouths. when our next order arrived from that company. But for items that are intended to be used only briefly.´ ³disintegrate. I really don¶t want the burden of storing (or recycling) the filler from every box I get. I¶d like it all to go away²preferably.´ and ³biodegrade´ do not all mean the same thing. your garbage can to disintegrate in the rain. even though cornstarch packing peanuts are much more common today. So the next-best thing²and. All right. it would dissolve almost instantly in water. The action of bacteria in warm. But even if true. empty plastic bottles²not to mention discarded electronic devices. it¶s simply not practical or reasonable to expect that no recyclable goods will ever end up in the trash. So what we¶re looking for in a truly .

a bacterial food product. other starches. we¶ll toss all our bottles and used packing materials into the same bin as our trash² without guilt. which are used not only for packing peanuts but for things like fast-food containers. owing to their natural sources. are largely to be found in biopolymers. The process can occur aerobically (with the aid of oxygen) or anaerobically (without oxygen). Substances break down much faster under aerobic conditions. PHB. Another often-mentioned biopolymer is polylactic acid. Natural Wonders The thing is. Because it is. can also serve as food for bacteria. But the appeal of using plant derivatives as the source of plastics is that they¶re renewable: you can ³grow´ your plastics in a field or ³brew´ them in a vat²and make more whenever you want. Surprisingly enough. it can also be produced by genetically modified plants (including a type of potato). or at the very least. how about the food they make themselves? Many different kinds of bacteria (and other organisms. is produced by the fermentation of cornstarch. a class of materials that look. But perhaps in the future. . and in turn recycled by nature as the building blocks for new life. The interesting solutions. is a rather versatile plastic. Products made directly from cornstarch. At the moment. or PLA. and act like the plastics we all know and love. But if you¶re looking for something bacteria might like to eat. that they store as an energy source in much the same way humans store fat. in fact. leave only inert substances behind. can also decompose by way of microbial action. of course. or cellulose certainly fit that description. it turns out. or PHB. made from lactic acid²which. it¶s completely biodegradable. for that matter) create a substance known as polyhydroxybutyrate. this is generally not in the nature (so to speak) of synthetic polymers. via e-mail Organic substances ³biodegrade´ when they are broken down by other living organisms (such as enzymes and microbes) into their constituent parts.³green´ plastic is one that can either decompose completely via microbial digestion (into such products as water and carbon dioxide). Wouldn¶t that be amazing? ²Joe Kissell Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that nothing really biodegrades in a landfill? Laura. such as polycaprolactone. do show a great deal of promise. and less flexible than many synthetic plastics. biopolymers such as PHB and PLA are relatively expensive to produce. therefore. but which. feel. as oxygen helps break the molecules apart. a few petroleum-based synthetic polymers. And such materials. It can be produced in quantity quite quickly simply by feeding sugar to the right kinds of bacteria in what amounts to a fermentation process. conventional plastics are heavily entrenched in many industries. in turn. And.

Reuse. there¶s not much dirt. have not caught on. such as food scraps and yard waste. Biodegradable plastics take time to completely dissolve If plastic is made to be biodegradable. and thus do not let much air in. A typical example is petroleum. Some analysts believe that as much as 65 percent of the waste currently sent to landfills in North America consists of such ³biomass´ that biodegrades rapidly and could generate a new income stream for landfills: marketable soil. corncobs and grapes in landfills. But when petroleum is processed into plastic. Reduce. Landfill Design and Technology May Enhance Biodegradation Some landfills are now being designed to promote biodegradation through the injection of water. which means that they will biodegrade when exposed to sunlight. Indeed. as a result. and as such can clog up landfills indefinitely. paying heed to the importance of the environmental movement¶s ³Three Rs´ (Reduce. As such. Reuse. it is no longer biodegradable. With landfills around the world reaching capacity. A popular example is the plastic ³polybag´ in which many magazines now arrive protected in the mail. very little oxygen. then won't the plastic forks and spoons we use dissolve in our mouth? Ask your own question! . and few if any microorganisms. Recycle is Best Solution for Landfills But getting people to sort their trash accordingly is another matter entirely. She cites a landfill study conducted by University of Arizona researchers that uncovered still-recognizable 25-year-old hot dogs. But these kinds of facilities are costly to create and. But the likelihood that such items will be exposed to sunlight while buried dozens of feet deep in a landfill is little to none. ³Typically in landfills. Some manufacturers make claims that their products are photodegradable. which biodegrades easily and quickly in its original form: crude oil.Landfills Too Tightly Packed for Most Trash to Biodegrade Most landfills are fundamentally anaerobic because they are compacted so tightly. Another recent development involves landfills that have separate sections for compostable materials. it is only likely to be into smaller pieces of plastic. technological fixes are not likely to make our waste disposal problems go away. any biodegradation that does take place does so very slowly.´ says green consumer advocate and author Debra Lynn Dadd. and even microbes. Recycle!) is likely the best approach to solving the problems caused by our ever-growing piles of trash. And if they do biodegrade at all. oxygen. as well as 50-year-old newspapers that were still readable. Processing May Inhibit Biodegradation Biodegradable items also may not break down in landfills if the industrial processing they went through prior to their useful days converted them into forms unrecognizable by the microbes and enzymes that facilitate biodegradation.

PHB has previously been used in Europe. this would be an ideal plastic to make plastic utensils. perhaps prompting you to ask your question.you will be able to take your time eating with these forks! . and they plan to make a range of new plastic objects. As you can see. When they appear. don't worry -. more than 30 billion pounds of plastic wastes are generated by American consumers. These so-called biodegradable polymers degrade in natural environments by reacting with water and/or various bacteria. There are two promising plastics in this respect: polylactic acid (PLA) and polyhydroxybutryate (PHB). My guess is that you might have found that these new 'peanuts' are soluble in water. In the past. it would reach about 3 miles up into the sky! Therefore a significant amount of scientific work is directed at developing polymers that degrade in the environment into non-toxic materials. these were made of a non-degradable polystyrene. there are a range of biodegradable plastics. However.Plastics are indispensable to modern life. every year. if you dumped all of this plastic waste on the Cornell University football field. The key is to make the plastic degrade slower than the estimated lifetime of the object. Just to give you an idea of how much waste this is. not minutes! Therefore. Shown below is a shampoo bottle made of PHB that was allowed to decompose in soil. clogging our landfills and polluting our landscape. Fortunately. PLA is currently being commercialized jointly by Dow and Cargill. such as the clam shells that are used in the fast-food industry. One everyday example where a biodegradable polymer has taken the place of conventional plastic is in the packing 'peanuts' that surround merchandise during shipping. Hopefully biodegradable forks will be common in the near future. each of which has its own rate of degradation. yet fast enough that it doesn't persist in the environment. but are now commonly made of a natural starch-based material. the plastic degrades over months.

NOT TRUE Some people claimed that Plastic bags that are advertised as degradable and sold in many supermarkets may not be as environmentally friendly. after reasearching for the lies and truths.Then.Biodegradable plastic bags. the term ³biodegradable¶ can cause confusion. is it really green? 25 03 2010 D2w Biodegradable Plastic is a true solution to irresponsible plastic waste disposal Recently I was reading an article that really shocked me .´As these plastics cannot be composted. . nor for composting. I would like to share this information and hopefully can get some comments on it. The study said these plastics have an uncertain impact on the natural environment and are neither suitable for conventional recycling methods. because of the chemical additives. Such bags usually use oxo-degradable plastics which include small amounts of additives to make them degrade faster.´ Environment Minister Dan Norris said in a statement.

a British public company quoted on the London Stock Exchange. Editing by Steve Addison) TRUE The below report is the response to the above Loughborough Report on Oxo-Degradable Plastics From Symphony Environmental Technologies Plc On 11th March the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) of the UK Government published a Report from Loughborough University entitled ³Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Oxo-degradable Plastics Across their Life-cycle. which are not supported by the evidence. (And us. is the authorized distributor of d2w in Asia) The Loughborough Report has confirmed that oxo-biodegradable plastics: * Do degrade abiotically in a normal environment * Do degrade abiotically under elevated temperatures in landfill * Do biodegrade * Do not emit methane even deep in landfill * Are safe for food contact * Contain no heavy metals The report has also confirmed that: * Pro-degradant additives are not harmful and have no negative environmental impact in the production and use phase * There is no evidence of bio-accumulation nor any harmful effect on the environment * There is no evidence of accumulation of pollutants * There is no evidence that degradable plastics encourage littering However.com/article/idUKTRE62B1GO20100312 (Reporting by Valle Aviles Pinedo.reuters.´ A detailed response has been prepared by Symphony Environmental Technologies Plc. composting.³We hope this research will discourage manufacturers and retailers from claiming that these materials are better for the environment than conventional plastics. and other issues. Food and Rural Affairs.. developing and supplying Oxobiodegradable plastic technology under its d2w trademark in 92 countries worldwide. JTrend Systems.´ he added. *Source: http://uk. . The above statement and study was executed out by Loughborough University and funded by the Department for Environment. Symphony believes that the Report contains some very strange recommendations about oxo-biodegradable plastics in relation to recycling.

biodeg.org Leading international experts on oxo-biodegradable technology. and none of whom is a specialist in oxo-biodegradable technology. have also commented ± see http://www. and that their views do not necessarily reflect DEFRA policy or opinions. we are confident to say that d2w biodegradable technology is a great invention to prevent/cure irresponsible plastic waste disposal problem. on our roads.net or http://www. The Oxo-biodegradable plastics industry was not given a draft of the Report before publication nor asked for its views on the ³Key Findings and Recommendations´. At least. Professor Gerald Scott. and Prof.d2w.The report was prepared by four members of staff at Loughborough. it is as good as ordinary plastic for strength. Before d2wTM oxo-biodegradable plastic starts to degrade.youtube.com/node/1327890 As an authorized distributor for d2w additives in Asia.sys-con. they remain scattered in our bushes.youtube. and clarity. . it does not release methan or toxicity ± withouting causing harm and disposal problem to the environment. in our rivers and seas.com/watch?v=i3TGqcpWJTM and http://www.org For videos of Symphony¶s d2w plastic degrading see http://www. killing live animals and causing great damage to the environment.biodeg. I would really love to conclude that: ³d2wTM controlled-life plastic are products with proven oxo-biodegradable technology. For a full copy of the response document please see the attachment or go to http://www. our trees.´ We all have basic understanding that ordinary plastic bags and packaging can take up to 400 years to degrade! When plastic bags are improperly discarded. printability. Symphony regard this as inappropriate.com/watch?v=jbxEu04t7xE *Source: http://au. sealability. Telmo Ojeda. none of whom are professors. when it starts to degrade. They state that their recommendations are their own opinions. because they are able to breakdown in any environement when oxygen is present.

some research suggests that the bags don't degrade as well as claimed. including Pizza Hut. breaking up into tiny pieces made of simple molecules that bugs and fungi can happily munch up. These are plastics made to degrade in the presence of oxygen and sunlight. do they really biodegrade away to nothing? Symphony. If it gets buried in a landfill it probably won't degrade at all because there is no light or oxygen. So. iron or manganese.Oxo-biodegradable plastic products made with d2w technology are available in over 60 countries worldwide and are distributed in shops. thanks to the addition of tiny amounts of metals like cobalt. the European Plastics Recyclers Association warned that they "have the potential to do more harm to the environment than good. But what about elsewhere? . won't degrade in landfills and may leave toxic leftovers Biodegradable plastic bags ± as handed out by Tesco. surely? They have a magic ingredient that means they self-destruct after a few months. says its bags are "able to degrade completely within about three years. KFC. priming plastic bags for destruction is itself an ecological crime. compared to standard bags which take 100 years or longer". British manufacturers ± headed by Symphony Technologies of Borehamwood ± are at the sharp end of a revolution that could banish bag-strewn beauty spots and back alleys alike." Technically what we are talking about here is "oxo-degradable" plastics. Tesco reckons they all decompose within 18 months "without leaving anything that could harm the environment". Biodegradable plastic bags carry more ecological harm than good Decomposing bags sound environmentally friendly but they require a lot of energy to make. News international. the Co-op and once even sold by the Soil Association ± must be good. Walmart and Marriott hotels. First. But the criticisms are twofold. But whether it actually happens seems to depend a lot on where the "biodegradable" plastic ends up. And second. But last week. which supplies the Co-op and Tesco. supermarkets and retail stores who are committed to preserving the environment. Dozens of major corporations use them.

For that reason. It's very frustrating. that makers should stop calling the bags "eco-friendly". Symphony and other manufacturers stress making bags biodegradable is just an insurance policy for those that don't get recycled or reused. And high humidity virtually stops the process. Neither of these studies relates specifically to Symphony's products. Plastic bags take a lot of energy and oil to make so why waste them by creating bags that self-destruct? "It is an economic and environmental nonsense to destroy this value. raising questions about the toxicity of the leftovers. This followed a ruling last December by an advertising industry watchdog.Studies of one brand in the US. found that breakdown is very dependent on temperature and humidity. as George Monbiot explained in a blog here recently. they are one of the choices that tend to show if we care about the environment or not. Of course. It goes slow in cold weather. the US study found that one brand contained "very high levels of lead and cobalt". Brits get through 8bn plastic bags a year. But a recent Swedish study found that polyethylene containing manganese additive stops breaking down when put in compost. making long. including Symphony's. But Clio Turton at the Soil Association told me: "We've had problems with people making these claims. But surely we are less likely to bother if we are told the bags are eco-bags that biodegrade. But most of us probably make "bag choices" several times a day. the UK Periodical Publishers Association two years ago recommended that all its members use oxo-biodegradable film to wrap their magazines) Industry websites. the New York Times announced it would not be wrapping its paper in bags made of the stuff because claims that the plastic was "100% biodegradable" did not stand up. (In marked contrast. And. Re-using bags is best. commissioned by the Biodegradable Products Institute." Plastic bags are not the biggest environmental issue on the planet. part of the US Council of Better Business Bureaus. The European Plastics Recyclers Association last week argued that biodegradable bags are not the right environmental option anyway. while most manufacturers say that to put only tiny amounts of metals into the plastic. do proudly proclaim one green endorsement ± that the organic trade body the Soil Association buys their bags. Throwing them away in the hope that a magic formula will guarantee their rapid disappearance is . This European backlash against oxo-biodegradable plastics follows similar rumblings in the US." the recyclers' trade association concluded. And we should be clear. We have asked for them to be removed. In March. But they raise questions. wet winters sound like bad news. probably due to the influence of ammonia or other gases generated by microorganisms in the compost. Recycling is second best. You might think a compost heap full of biodegrading bugs would be ideal. we consumers can reuse or recycle biodegradable bags as easily as any other kind.

laziness. Using biodegradable bags. You can Save the World by using these bags. Tagged as Oxo-Biodegradable Plastics or OBPs these are conventional plastics as polyethylene. for which these products are an energy source or food. a transition metal salt (often of cobalt). Unlike other polyilefin products such as grocery and garbage bags. Its active ingredient in oxo-biodegradable products. Meanwhile the green bag can last for approximately two years or more than 100 grocery trips. Do Biodegradable Plastics Really Work? The answer. food wraps and liners for diapers which after use are discarded. it said that these plastics are the main ones used in a variety of disposable packaging applications. thereby returning otherwise intractable plastics to the ecosystem. plus five more degrading questions. And anybody who tries to persuade us otherwise is guilty of Greenwash. non-toxic.Many are into saving mother Earth and SM City Davao is one of the many advocates of protecting the environment. OBP's is not harmful to the people or the environment. not environmental care. This has been corrected. Studies have shown that composts made from oxo-biodegradable bags are not toxic to sensitive plant and animal organisms. SM shifts to biodegradable bags by Prix D Banzon Davao City (3 May) -. We should have made clear that the Soil Association no longer sells the biodegradable plastic bags referred to in this article. End users are adopting OBPs as an effective way to offer to the customers' environmentally responsible packaging in addressing concerns of government and the consuming public regarding the environmentally acceptable disposal of single use plastic products. SM Department Store advocates the care for Mother Nature. May 3 on SM's Trash and Cash Recycling Market Fair. is used at very low levels. polypropylene and polystyrene added with a proprietary mixture that accelerates the breakdown of the chemical structure of the plastics. Cobalt is a micro-nutrient essential for life. The Biogradable Bags and the Greens Bag will be launched today. ² By Dave Gilson y y y Newsletter Share . It is made of material that is recyclable. The OBPs degrades into a form that is safely absorbed into the ecosystem in a timeframe that is similar to that of "natural" products such as stra. Kraft paper and leaves. Two of its major anchors the SM Department Store and SM Supermarket had shifted into using biodegradable bags and the green bag respectively. The resultant breakdown products are then amenable to conversion by micro-organisms. and allergy free. OBPs are widely used now. In a press statement. ‡ This article was amended on Friday 19 June 2009. or turned into carbon dioxide and water.

which now shows up on everything from water bottles to trash bags to Discover's "biodegradable PVC" credit cards. no curbside recycling program will take them." says Ramani Narayan. make sure you can help them "go away" the right way. In fact. are making conventional plastic that degrades quickly and then throwing around claims about biodegradability that are unproven or just too good to be true. even when they break down into pieces too small to be seen with the naked eye. carbon dioxide. Some companies. "No one has really measured how long it takes. who helped develop biodegradable corn-based plastic. So before you buy biodegradable plastics. a professor of chemical and biochemical engineering at Michigan State University. So what's the best way to get rid of biodegradable plastic? "The public thinks that biodegradability means 'If I throw it away. But broken down plastics are better than litter. it will completely go away.000? It's a mystery. To make sure you're getting the real deal." says Narayan. This is most evident in the oceans. is "disingenuous at best. However. home to billions of pieces of disintegrating plastic and preproduction pellets called nurdles.'" says Narayan. which means they've been certified to comply with strict scientific standards. only 42 communities nationwide offered compost collection. plastics often create more environmental harm when broken down than when intact. and biomass²with no nasty chemical leftovers. (Seventeen were in California. What about biodegradable plastics? They're pretty neat: Microorganisms can convert biodegradable plastics into water. a greenhouse gas 23 times more potent than CO2. food containers." Real biodegradable plastic should be sent to a commercial composting facility. What is known is that conventional petroleum-based plastics never really go away.) And though some biodegradable plastics can be recycled. Some new plastics are designed to degrade (not to be confused with biodegrade²more on that in a sec) in a matter of weeks when exposed to the elements. . Can biodegradable plastics break down in landfills? This claim. nothing biodegrades in a landfill. where it will spend its final days being eaten by microbes.21 Comments | Post Comment May/June 2009 Just how long does it take for conventional plastics to completely break down? 500 years? 1." explains Narayan. he says. but that doesn't mean they're truly gone. there is a lot of confusion surrounding these ecofriendlier plastics²some of it intentional. right? Wrong. and compostable bags. How do I avoid fake biodegradable plastics? Currently. But if biodegradable plastics do break down in this oxygen-free environment. they'll emit methane. "This word 'biodegradable' has become very attractive to people trying to make quick bucks on it. Usually. which can work their way back up the food chain to humans. "They don't even know what 'going away' means. truly biodegradable plastics are mostly used for eating utensils. look for products with the Biodegradable Products Institute logo. But here's the catch: In 2007.

000 amu) within 2±18 months depending on the material (resin. There is little proof however to back up the common assumption that OBD plastics will degrade in a landfill environment due to insufficient oxygen present below a depth of approximately 15cm.) and the temperature and other factors in the environment. [edit] Oxybiodegradation or Oxo-biodegradation The process of degradation in OBD plastic is an oxidative chain scission that is catalyzed by small amounts of metal salts leading to oxygenated (hydroxylated and carboxylated) shorter chain molecules that are available for biomineralization by microorganisms. OBD plastic is degradable and biodegradable. A PE plastic bag for example 30 m thick with 2% prodegradant additive degrades within 3 months if left exposed in an open air environment in Thailand and a 150 m thick PP container or sheet will degrade within 3±6 months. etc. search Oxo Biodegradable (OBD) plastic is polyolefin plastic to which has been added very small (catalytic) amounts of metal salts. thickness. and serves only to add to climate- . anti-oxidants. and is not the same as biodegradation in the environment. These catalyze the natural degradation process to speed it up so that the OBD plastic will degrade when subject to environmental conditions to produce water. carbon dioxide and biomass. OBD plastic if accidentally discarded in the environment. However. This chemical change enables naturally-occurring microorganisms to consume the low molecular mass products as a food source. [edit] Degradation Degradation is a process that takes place in all materials. The low molecular weight oxygenated molecules are then biomineralized ("eaten") by microorganisms in the same way that other organic matter is used by them to generate energy and build biomass. The speed depends on the environment. will degrade to oxygenated low molecular weight (typically MW 5-10. and can be recycled with normal plastic [1] but it is not as yet marketed as compostable. the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation. hence biodegradation. The process is shortened from hundreds of years to years and or months for degradation and thereafter biodegradation depends on the micro-organisms in the environment. Conventional polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) plastics will typically take hundreds of years to degrade. typically bacteria and fungi.Oxo Biodegradable From Wikipedia. But oxo-biodegradable products utilize a prodegradant to speed up the molecular breakdown of the polyolefins and incorporate oxygen atoms into the resulting low molecular mass. This short time is necessary for compostable plastics because industrial composting has a short timescale. This is because the oxidation process takes longer than the 180 day period required by ASTM D6400 and similar standards for compostable plastics such as EN13432 and ISO 17088. a material which completely converts itself into CO2 gas within 180 days (which is not the case for OBD) is not useful even in compost.

ASTM D6400 is a Standard Specification. and humus.g. There is no need to refer to a Standard Specification unless a specific disposal route (e.: composting). This breaks the molecular chains in the polymer. because the additive represents less than 3% of the product. but is appropriate only for compostable plastics. . or does it just fragment? When the material has reached the fragmentation stage it is no longer a plastic. Why do we need oxo-biodegradable plastic? Because thousands of tons of plastic waste are entering the world's environment every day. Top What does it cost? Very little. water. There is a Standard Guide (ASTM D6954) available which specifies procedures to test the degradability of oxo-biodegradable plastics however as this is only Standard guide as apposed to a Standard Specification it does not provide pass / fail criteria and therefore is of limited use in deciding whether a plastic should be marketed as "biodegradable". Top Does it really biodegrade. The plastic does not just fragment. is envisaged. They will nevertheless degrade more quickly than nature's wastes such as twigs and straw (c10 years) and much more quickly than ordinary plastic (many decades). The process continues until the material has biodegraded to nothing more than CO2. A leaf is generally considered to be biodegradable but it will not pass the composting standard due to the 180 day limit in ASTM D6400.change. and because the products can be made with the same machines and workforce as ordinary plastic. and it does not leave fragments of petro-polymers in the soil. and is "biodegradable" in the same way as nature's wastes such as straw and twigs. and will remain there for hundreds of years. Oxo-biodegradable products do not degrade so rapidly because they are stabilized to control the service-life of the product. but will be consumed by bacteria and fungi after the additive has reduced the molecular weight to a level which permits micro-organisms access to the carbon and hydrogen. and at the end of its useful life the product falls apart. Top How does it work? A very small amount of pro-degradant additive is put into the manufacturing process. unless collected for incineration.

but there is a lot of litter today and there will always be some litter.org) However. and modern equipment is in place. Top What about energy recovery? In some countries incineration is popular. but hydro-biodegradables (usually starch-based) can also emit methane. with loss of jobs? No. because customers can still use the factories which supply them with ordinary plastic products. Top What are the differences between oxo-biodegradable and hydro-biodegradable plastic? See http://www. . but only oxo-biodegradable can be economically recycled.org/positionpapers/recycling/?domain=biodeg. Both types emit CO2 as they degrade. and has a higher calorific value than the hydro-biodegradable alternative.org/position-papers/comparison/?domain=biodeg. if the plastic is not collected it cannot be recycled.biodeg. so it needs to biodegrade instead of accumulating in the environment.Top Won't it put existing factories out of business. Top What types of biodegradable plastics exist? The two main types are oxo-biodegradable and hydro-biodegradable.org Top Surely education is the way to solve the litter problem? Hopefully education will reduce the litter problem over several generations. and one of the benefits of oxo-biodegradable plastic is that it can be recycled as part of a normal plastic waste stream (see http://www. Oxo-biodegradable plastic can be incinerated with energy recovery in the same way as conventional plastic. Action needs to be taken today to switch to oxobiodegradable before millions more tons of plastic waste accumulate in the environment. In both cases degradation begins with a chemical process (oxidation or hydrolysis). Top Isn't it better to recycle than to let it biodegrade? Yes. followed by a biological process. Both types are compostable.biodeg.

Top Does it contain "heavy metals"? No. but it is suitable for "in-vessel" composting at the higher temperatures required by the new EU animal by-products regulations. Top What happens to it in a landfill? Oxo-biodegradable plastics fragment and partially biodegrade to CO2 and water in the parts of the landfill where oxygen is present. which is a powerful greenhouse gas. Mercury. but the by-product arises because the world needs fuels. which are trace elements required in the human diet. These are of course finite resources. In fact plastics could reduce the amount of oil and gas imported because after their useful life they can be incinerated to release the stored energy.Top Can it be composted? Oxo-biodegradable plastic does not degrade quickly in low temperature "windrow" composting. instead of wasting it by "flare-off" at the refinery and using scarce agricultural resources to make plastics. in the depths of a landfill. However. in the absence of air. Top Isn't it made from oil? Yes. It contains transition metal ions of Cobalt or Iron or Manganese. Oxo-biodegradable plastics are currently made from a by-product of oil or natural gas. Until other fuels and lubricants have been developed for engines. Cadmium and Chromium. They should not be confused with toxic heavy metals such as Lead. it makes good environmental sense to use the by-product. and would arise whether or not the by-product were used to make plastic goods. hydro-biodegradable (starch-based) plastics will degrade and emit CO2 in a landfill if there is enough microbial activity. Indeed it is likely that windrow composting will soon have to be phased out. By contrast. hydro-biodegradable plastics generate copious quantities of methane. but the residues are completely inert deeper in the landfill in the absence of oxygen. which can be used to generate electricity or to heat buildings. which are never used in oxo-biodegradable plastics. . They do not emit any significant amounts of methane.

The key point is what happens to the plastic which is not collected. . In June 2009 Germany's Institute for Energy and Environmental Research concluded that oilbased plastics. but are in fact usually made from food crops. have a better Life-cycle Analysis than compostable plastics. Fossil fuels are burned in the machines used to clear and cultivate the land. plant growth and organism survival (daphnia. like oilderived PE.g. especially if recycled. and in the manufacture and transport of fertilisers and pesticides and in transporting the crop itself. oxo-biodegradable plastics are not "deliberately and totally lost" even if they degrade in the environment. These. just as is straw. because if people want to incinerate with heat recovery. Oxo-biodegradable plastic passes all the usual ecotoxicity tests. Top Deliberately and totally lost? The argument that oxo-biodegradable plastics are undesirable because their components are designed to be deliberately and totally lost is a fallacy. but they can be made oxo-biodegradable in the same way as the latter. grass. including seed germination. or compost them in-vessel. and gets into the environment as litter? In any event. leaves etc. so the total fossil fuels used and greenhouse gases emitted are more than for conventional or oxo-biodegradable plastic. or re-use them. are not biodegradable. interest has been shown in manufacturing sugar-derived polyethylenes. earthworms) tests carried out in accordance with international standards. by the addition of a pro-degradant additive. Top But aren't the hydro-biodegradable plastics renewable? No. or mechanically recycle them. Top Does it leave any harmful residues? No. because biodegradation on land is a source of plant nutrients. because the process of making them from crops is itself a significant user of fossil-fuel energy and a producer therefore of greenhouse gases. polylactic acid from carbohydrates etc). and they cost very little if anything more than conventional products. When the material biodegrades it emits CO2 and methane. Energy is also used by the autoclaves used to ferment and polymerise material synthesised from biochemically produced intermediates (e.Recently. Hydro-biodegradables are sometimes described as made from "non-food" crops. then that's OK. and drive up the price of human and animal food.

However the EU Packaging Waste Directive does NOT require that when a packaging product is marketed as "degradable" or "compostable" conformity with the Directive must be assessed by reference to EN13432. . If 1.000 conventional bags would remain in the rivers.would it not be better if the discarded plastic were all oxobiodegradable? Top Is it safe for food-contact? Yes.000 conventional and 1. but none of the oxo-biodegradable bags would be left at the end of the short life programmed into them at manufacture. Indeed Annex Z of EN13432 itself says that it provides only one means of conforming with the essential requirements. Oxo-biodegradable plastic has been certified by RAPRA Technology Analytical Laboratories as safe for long-term contact with any food type at temperatures up to 40°C. The current EU Standard for composting (EN13432) is not appropriate for testing oxobiodegradable plastic. such as a report from a reputable body.100 oxo-biodegradable bags were left uncollected in the environment. It is also certified as compliant with FDA requirements in the US. 17025. hydro-biodegradable plastics are "deliberately and totally lost" because the applicable international standards require them to convert to CO2 gas within 180 days. but it does not exclude proof of conformity by other evidence. but there is no evidence that people dispose more carelessly of them (whether oxo or hydro biodegradable) and they have not been encouraged to do so. 1. But suppose for the sake of argument that 10% more were discarded. There will always be people who will deliberately or accidentally discard their plastic waste. RAPRA is accredited by the United Kingdom accreditation authorities as meeting the requirements of International Standards Organisation norm no. Top More careless disposal? Degradable plastic bags have been supplied by supermarkets for more than four years.By contrast. What will happen to all the plastic waste that will not be recycled or will not be incinerated. and instead will litter the countryside . Top Can it be marketed as Biodegradable or Compostable? On 8th April 2010 the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa ruled that bread bags made with oxo-biodegradable plastic can be advertised as Biodegradable. The Directive provides that conformity with its essential requirements may be presumed if EN 13432 is complied with. streets and fields for decades.

creating seven times more transport pollution and road congestion.Top Isn't it better to use paper bags? No. Paper bags cannot normally be re-used. Shoppers do not always go to the shop from home. The process of making paper bags causes 70% more atmospheric pollution than plastic bags. Top Isn't it better to use durable re-usable bags? No. and the process uses huge amounts of water and creates very unpleasant organic waste. Top How long does it take to completely degrade? An important advantage of oxo-biodegradable plastic is that it can be programmed to degrade in whatever timescale is required. However. and consumers are unlikely to have a re-usable bag with them when buying on impulse items such as clothing. It would take at least seven times the number of trucks to deliver the same number of bags. Top . Heat and light will accelerate the process. CDs. people may use two or three bags inside each other. During that time bags are often re-used for shopping or for use as bin-liners etc. for those who believe in long-term re-usable bags. They are much thicker and more expensive. A stack of 1000 new plastic carrier bags would be around 2 inches high. but a stack of 1000 new paper grocery bags could be around 2 feet high. They are not hygienic unless cleaned after each use. and will disintegrate if wet. Whilst sometimes called "Bags for Life" they have a limited life. The average useful life of a carrier bag is about 18 months. because paper bags are not as strong as plastic. where the re-usable bags would normally be kept. magazines. and become a very durable problem when discarded. depending on the treatment they receive. but shorter or longer times are possible. stationery etc. and a large number of them would be required for the weekly shopping of an average family. When they degrade they emit methane and carbon dioxide. groceries. Also. but they are not essential. Paper bags use 300% more energy to produce. Long-term re-usable shopping bags are not the answer. they can be made from extendedlife oxo-biodegradable plastic and will last for 3-5 years.

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