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Biodegradable Plastics are not the Answer to Reducing Marine Litter, says UN

Polystyrene Polution on the Beach Cape TownThis article discussing why biodegradable plastics are not the answer to reducing marine litter was recently published on the United Nations News Center.

We absolutely agree with this. Using biodegradable plastic in the place of conventional plastic will not reduce the amount of marine liter that we are experiencing in the world today.

Biodegradable plastics are not pretending to be the answer to Marine Litter. There are other plant based alternatives to plastic that will significantly reduce marine litter. These include paper, sugarcane (bagasse), bamboo and many other non-plastic, biodegradable items.

Regarding biodegradable plastics, the main benefit that plastics made from plants offer, is that they are made from a renewable resource and not petroleum based oil. Secondly, if they land up in compost facility, they’ll be turned back into a natural harmless, organic material. If they land up in the ocean or in landfills, it will take long time for them to biodegrade. They will still break down faster than conventional plastic, and are non-toxic, but this is definitely not what they are designed for. They do provide similar functionality to plastic, so are a great option when you want to move away from fossil-fuel based non-biodegradable plastics, but paper-based or similar products aren’t fit for purpose.

So just to be clear, if you are looking for ways to reduce your “packaging footprint”. First, look to see where you can use reusable rather than single use food packaging options. Then if you must use disposable packaging, choose something made from plants. And consider going even one step further than that, collect them for composting once they have been used.

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