In recent years, plastic pollution has become a heated topic around the world. In one well-publicised case in March, a young whale that washed up in the Philippines died from “GASTRIC shock” after ingesting 40 kg of plastic bags. The D’ Bone Collector Museum biologists who conducted the autopsy appeal to the government that action must be taken against those who continue to treat the waterways and ocean as dumpsters.
Another closely watched news is scientists found that even Arctic sea ice, far removed from most major metropolitan areas, is no longer plastic-free. To solve the problem of marine pollution, Many countries have put forward the banned plastic. On June 10th, CNN just reported that Canada would ban many single-use plastic items by 2021, including bags, straws, cutlery and stirring sticks. And then more and more countries are seconding. So will all plastic packaging be banned shortly? What products will replace these plastic packaging? Paper or cotton? Are they less polluting our environment? This decree has caught many plastic suppliers and single-use plastic businesses off guard. What course to follow of your business/factory?
Ban Plastic Can Not Save Our Destroyed Environment
The answer is NO!
Since the invention of the plastic by chemist Riot Baekeland in 1907, it has been widely used in disposable consumer goods, and the use of plastic has risen sharply in many countries. Plastic has also become ubiquitous as a packaging material because it is cheap, light, porous and durable. It has been instrumental in the massive expansion of global trade. According to the Science History Institute, plastic was once considered a material that protects nature from “the destructive forces of human need.” in 1869. Because it can replace ivory, wood, metal, stone, bones and horns are widely used, so synthetic plastics were flattered over the past century. The irony is that now, plastic pollution has become one of the enemies that threaten human survival.
With the continuous growth of the population, all kinds of resources have been over-exploited, the output of plastics has increased a lot. In 2014, it reached 343 tons, 20 times more than it was 50 years ago. But at the same time, and not much came of our waste sorting and disposal systems, and it is still stuck in the simple process of burying or burning up the hard-to-decompose garbage heaps and transporting unmanageable waste to developing countries. Following a decision by China to ban plastic waste imports for recycling and both Malaysia and the Philippines announced that they would be returning hundreds of tons of plastic waste to their origin countries. Many countries pay attention to the issue of plastic recycling and even proposed a ban on single-use plastic.
As we know, banning plastic is not going to save our environment. With plastic banned, more alternatives are needed. Single-use plastic requires fewer resources than paper, cotton, and so on. For example, the Danish Ministry of Environment and food found that a paper bag has an environmental impact, including land, water, CO2 emissions, etc. , of 43 times that of a disposable plastic bag. An organic cotton bag requires 20,000 times more resources than a standard disposable plastic bag, which is equivalent to this natural cotton bag need to take 55 years to re-use every day. Of course, this data does not include the waste after the pollution of the environment. Thus, banning the production of single-use plastic will not save our polluted environment.
We produce about 1.3 billion tons of waste each year around the world, nearly half of them is plastic waste, and only 9% of it is recycled. These waste is far beyond our regular disposal or recycling capacity and puts a lot of pressure on the environment and the government. So many countries start banning plastic from relieving the stress, but ban plastic is not a long-term solution. For the simple reason that disposable plastic products permeate every part of our lives, bringing convenience to our way of life. Doe’s government decrees can easily change the way of life of all people? Will consumers abandon standard amenities like single-use plastic bottles, bags? For example, Europe uses 100 billion single-use plastic bags a year. I think the answer is obvious.
The most fundamental problem to solve plastic pollution is the immaturity of our garbage disposal system, followed by the plastic is difficult to degrade. Solving the problem of garbage sorting and recycling still needs to be done by the government and more companies to cooperate and standardise. And biodegradable materials can be an excellent solution to plastic is hard to degrade. No matter how controversial of biodegradable/compostable plastic, no one disputes that its prospects are up-and-coming.
What you need to know of Biodegradable and Compostable plastic
① Biodegradable plastic
As the name suggests, these biodegradable plastics can be decomposed by the naturally occurring microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and algae. It will be broken down into natural elements, carbon dioxide, and water vapour generally. Technically, almost everything is biodegradable, just for different decomposition cycle. There are many kinds of biodegradable materials. PLA, which is fully named is polylactic acid, accounts for 45.1% of biodegradable plastic. It is the primary biodegradable material and usually made from starch extracted from renewable plants, such as corn, cassava, etc. The melting point is up to 185 degrees. So it can be frozen and microwavable.
Another one biodegradable more popular is PCL, Polycaprolactone. Microorganisms can completely decompose PCL in anaerobic and aerobic environments. It is often used to make the inner film of paper cups; its feature is leakproof. But it’s melting point just reach 80-degree centigrade. So it can not be used for boiling water. Other materials are PVA, PHB, PHA, PBS, PPC, etc. They were widely used in medicine, agriculture, sports equipment and other fields. Compared to traditional hard-to-decompose plastics, the degradation cycle of biodegradable plastics is significantly shortened, generally around 2-6 months.
② Compostable plastic
The definition of compostable plastics is plastic can be broken down into carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compound and biomass in a compost setting. Compostable materials are usually made from organic materials and plants such as potato, and tapioca starches, cellulose. Compostable products will break down more quickly than biodegradable plastic; it just needs near 90 days to degrade. And they will be degraded into nutrient-rich products.
Compostable products generally have two colours: Light yellow resin and Nature white resin. To increase the product elasticity, elongation at break, heat resistance and impact performance, more manufacturers will generally add PBAT in the raw material. Currently, most of the Environmental Materials What SUPACK INDUSTRY CO,.LTD sells are compostable raw materials, TRBF95 and TRBF90, made from PBAT, Corn Starch and PLA. It’s melting point of 120-160℃ and feature are harmless to the human body, compliant with the FDA food contact standard, no phthalate, BPA free, non-toxic and pollution-free. On average, the production of TRBF95 and TRBF90 resin uses about 30% less energy than the traditional plastics. Similarly, Compared to traditional plastic, it can reduce over 40%-60%carbon dioxide. TRBF95 and TRBF90 have Mechanical properties, applied to general plastic processing facilities for various moulding processing.
Know more about the compostable plastics HERE.
How to Dispose of Compostable and biodegradable trash? Environmentally friendly materials are most concerned with their final disposal after they are turned into waste. Many people mix “biodegradable” with “compostable”. Biodegradable plastics and compostable plastic do not end up in ordinary landfills. Not only are these materials mode of production different, but they end up being processed in different ways. Biodegradable plastic trash is best sent to a recycling plant, where it can eventually be broken down in a biogas plant and reused as a renewable energy source, for example, to produce methane for electricity generation. Compostable plastic waste can also be degraded in most cases only under specific conditions in industrial composting plants because it controls factors such as temperature, time, humidity and the presence of bacteria and fungi in particular environments. It ensures an efficient composting process.
While biodegradable, compostable plastic differs in many ways, they are among the best changes we can make for plastic contamination. The best we can do about plastic pollution is to reduce, reuse, recycle, and these two products can be well recycled. After all, only 9% of the world’s plastic waste is recycled each year; they can help us solve this problem. These products, of course, there is also a problem, our social recycling facilities are not very perfect for these new products. These facilities have yet to be better developed. Now many supermarkets charge 5 cent tax of plastic bags. If the government can make good use of the tax money, it may be better to improve our plastic recycling system.
If you have more disagreements, welcome to comment and discuss.