Advantages and Disadvantages of Biodegradable Plastics
There are two types of biodegradable plastics. These bioplastics are made from renewable raw materials and plastics from petrochemicals with degradable additives.
These plastic types are designed to minimize pollution from plastic pollutants, which become compost after a period of time.
However, there are good and bad sides to using these plastics.
Advantages of Biodegradable Plastics
1. Reduce carbon emissions
One of the advantages associated with the use of biodegradable plastics is the smaller emissions of carbon into the air during the manufacture of bioplastics. Unlike ordinary plastics, which generate 4 tons of carbon emissions, bioplastics emit only about 0.8 tons of carbon, which adds to the greenhouse effect and global warming.
2. Consume less energy
The manufacturing process of biodegradable plastics requires less energy and does not require the recycling of fossil fuels. In contrast, traditional plastics require more energy to produce and burn fossil fuels. Since less energy is required, more bioplastics can be produced with less pollution to the environment.
3. Requires less landfill
Non-biodegradable plastic is sent to landfill for disposal. As a result, land areas that could otherwise be used for agricultural, residential, or industrial applications are converted to landfills. If bioplastics are used, there is no need to add more landfills, as these plastics can be absorbed by the soil and turned into compost or humus.
In addition to taking less time to break down when thrown away, biodegradable plastics are also recyclable and non-toxic as they contain no chemicals or toxins compared to other types of plastic, especially when burned and release harmful chemicals.
Disadvantages of Biodegradable Plastics
1. A composter is required
Another aspect of using biodegradable plastics is that industrial composters are required to turn them into compost, and equipment available in some countries can be an issue. Cost aside, not all countries have the proper equipment, especially if it's not a government priority. Well, bioplastics that need to be processed are not properly discarded.
2. Engineering issues
These bioplastics are plant-based, meaning they come from farm-based organic sources like soybeans and corn. However, the pesticides these organic plants are sprayed with are heavy with chemicals that can contaminate crops and be transferred or included in finished products.
3. Pollution risk
Biodegradable plastics should not be mixed with non-biodegradable plastics when thrown in the trash. The problem here is that not everyone knows how to separate or differentiate bioplastics from other plastic types. Once the two plastics are mixed together, these bioplastics become contaminated and can no longer be used. As a result, these contaminated bioplastics end up in landfills, increasing their volume.
As people's awareness of global warming and environmental issues deepens, biodegradable plastics are becoming more and more popular. Despite the drawbacks of bioplastics, it will help to focus on the benefits of using bioplastics and educate people about its importance and impact on a global scale.