Plastic and plastic products have been a major area of concern for the environment in recent years as more and more of the world’s oceans and land are polluted.

The growing need for a plastic that can assimilate back into the environment without doing any harm has led to the continued research and development of biodegradable plastics. Biodegradable plastics are made from traditional petrochemicals that are engineered to break down more quickly.

They contain additives that cause them to decay more rapidly in the presence of light, oxygen, moisture and heat and unlike bioplastics, they don’t always break down into harmless substances. At times they can leave behind a toxic residue which makes them unsuitable for composting which has become a popular trend with bioplastics.

The debate around whether or not biodegradable plastics are environmentally friendly is one that rages on as environmental advocates continue to point out the flaws of their design. For one when biodegradable plastics are put into a landfill they are unable to biodegrade properly because the conditions are not favourable.

For a plastic to qualify as biodegradable it needs to be scientifically proven to break down and return to nature completely within a specified time period. In order to really minimise the impact on the environment biodegradable plastics need to be redirected from landfills all together, either through recycling or composting, otherwise there is little to separate them from traditional plastics.

Despite all the negative publicity biodegradable plastics and their development still prevail because of the wide range of uses and the that fact they can be safe for the environment under certain conditions. From specialised applications like sustained drug release applications to everyday products like bottles, bags and films more room is undoubtedly being made for biodegradable plastics every day.

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Resources: Mother Nature Network, Sustainable, FutureEnergia