Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Shocking News! Biodegradable Plastics don't Biodegrade in the Ocean!

Just as Captain Renault was "...shocked! - shocked! - to find that gambling is going on in here!", the announcements surrounding the newest United Nations Environment Programme report that biodegradable plastics don't biodegrade in the ocean is as equally unshocking. But you would not know that from the much of the hullabaloo around the web.

"The enemy of the environment" screams one such headline. For me to call that an overstatement is equally as much of an understatement. Biodegradable plastics make up such a small proportion of all plastics (keep in mind that the Big 6 are high density polyethylene, low density polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, polyester and polyvinyl chloride, they comprise 76% of all plastics produced and they all are non-biodegradable), that their lack of biodegradability in the oceans is an equally small concern.

Besides, I really have never seen much potential for biodegradable plastics, at least as an approach to pollution elimination. No matter what the material, biodegradability is a slow process and yet the creation of pollution is instantaneous. Newsprint is one of the most biodegradable materials available, but newspaper pages blowing around in the park is still considered an eyesore and an example of pollution for the weeks that the paper is still undegraded.

Biodegradation is a long-term solution to immediate pollution, and this new report simply confirms what has been known for decades. Plastics has no business being in the ocean - do your part to keep it out.



Previous Years

May 25, 2012 - My Favorite Toxic Chemical

May 25, 2011 - A New Variable in Polymer Degradation Chemistry

May 25, 2010 - Exhibits that I liked at ANTEC

May 25, 2007 - Why I hate polyurethanes


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