Biodegradable and Compostable Plastic Products

​​Do Biodegradable Plastics Additives Really Work?

Mar 04 , 2021

Biodegradable Plastics Additives

In recent years, due to increased demand for biodegradable plastics, prices have risen. In 2019, global production capacities of bioplastics (of which bio-degradable polymers accounted for around 40% of the market) amounted to about 2.11 million tons, with almost 50% of the volume destined for the packaging market – the biggest market segment within the bioplastics industry.

If you have ever tried to choose environmentally friendly options in packaging materials, then you will find this is a confusing environment. There are various requirements and technical terms, so it is important to beware of unethical marketing activities. For plastic products, the most common (misleading) statement is plastics that are labeled "degradable", "oxo-biodegradable" or even "degradable in a landfill." Unlike bioplastics produced from renewable resources, these "degradable plastics" are just conventional plastics derived from fossil resources, and manufacturers claim that these additives will biodegrade the product under certain conditions.

Can Additives Really Make Plastic Biodegradable?

Biodegradable additives are known for providing microbes the chemical ability they need to body slam plastics into annihilation. These additives, which are also referred to as degradation initiators, consist of very complex chemical components.

These additives just make up less than one percent of the finished product, once that they are blended with the plastic. The plastic looks smell and feels the same as before.  When does the additive start to work?

The process doesn't start directly. Some microbes are attracted to the additive in the plastic produce. These microbes create a fissure in the plastic. The combinations of acids and enzymes, along with water, eventually allows them to break down the huge plastic polymers into smaller and smaller bits.

If plastics do break down into smaller pieces and remain in the environment, they may be ingested by animals and eventually enter the food chain. It also does not solve the problem of using limited fossil resources for disposable packaging and is certainly not a trash solution. All of this provides consumers and brand owners with a false sense of sustainability.

Many countries/regions now have regulations that restrict companies from making these unproven and misleading claims.

Are Biodegradable Plastics Additives a Scam?

A new study carried out at Michigan State University concluded that additives that were that none of the different additives that underwent testing actually accelerated or even facilitated the process of biodegrading, in any of the exposed environments. There was no evidence that these additives either promoted or enhanced the biodegradation of PE or PET polymers.

There are also compostable plastics, or also called Bioplastics. The most commonly used one is PLA and PBAT. They are produced from natural materials such as corn starch, oils, or vegetable fats. SEALONG likes to use these bioplastics for takeaway packaging, mail bags, garbage bags, biodegradable poop bags, etc. All the packaging products they produce are 100% biodegradable and compostable. Adding Chemicals to render plastic biodegradable doesn't make any sense and ends up just adding more pollutants to the environment. Don't be fooled!
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