Are degradable plastic bags necessarily environmentally friendly?

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2019-10-24
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Are degradable plastic bags necessarily environmentally friendly?

As we all know, plastic bags used casually everyday have caused serious problems and burdens on the environment.

There are some “degradable plastic bags” appearing on the market, everyone may think, Plastic bags with the word “degradation” should all be degradable and environmentally friendly.

However, this is not the case. Only when the plastic bag finally turns into water and carbon dioxide, is it a truly environmentally friendly bag.

The so-called “environment-friendly” plastic bags on the market mainly include the following:

Oxo-biodegradable plastic:

Plastics that are degraded by heat and / or oxidation; thermal oxygen degradation is oxidative corrosion and can only cause local or complete damage to the polymer.

Photodegradable plastic:

It is a plastic that is degraded by the action of natural light; light belongs to ultraviolet radiation and can only cause local or complete damage to the polymer.

Made of traditional plastic material plus photosensitizer. The use of ultraviolet radiation causes a chain reaction in which the polymer chain of the photosensitizer is broken, prompting the plastic to crack into fragments, but it cannot be decomposed.

If the plastic bag is “degradable”, which specifically includes “photodegradation” or “thermo-oxidative degradation”, it can only turn the plastic bag into small plastic fragments, which is not only harmful to the recycling and cleaning of plastics. Entering the environment will create more pollution problems. As a result, this “degradable” plastic bag is not environmentally friendly, and it has caused a lot of opposition in the industry.

The European Commission’s 2018 report states that a large number of scientific experts, government agencies, and testing agencies have concluded that oxidizable plastics are no longer (another) environmental solution. They degrade faster and can be broken into small pieces or particulates under certain prerequisites, but have not yet been proven to be fully degradable in natural environments; fragmented / particulate plastics scattered in soil, ocean and other environments also aggravate Plastic pollution issues. They also cannot be effectively recycled or composted. This year, the EU officially passed legislation on a number of disposable plastic products, including a ban on oxidatively degradable plastic products. In the future, oxidatively degradable plastics will not be sold on the EU market.

This plastic is not necessarily more environmentally friendly than traditional PE plastic bags: first, the degradation effect is controversial, and second, it is difficult to recycle and dispose of. Currently, the European Union has legislation to ban the sale of “oxidatively degradable plastics”.

Biodegradable plastic:

Degradation in nature such as soil and / or sand, and / or specific conditions such as composting or anaerobic digestion or in aqueous culture medium, caused by the action of microorganisms such as bacteria, molds and seaweeds that are present in nature And finally completely degraded into carbon dioxide (CO2) or / and methane (CH4), water (H2O) and mineralized inorganic salts of elements and new biomass plastic.

Only biodegradable plastic bags are really environmentally friendly!

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