Different Types of Biodegradable Bags
New types of plastics engineered to degrade in natural conditions have been manufactured in recent years to solve the plastic pollution problem.
In particular, biodegradable bags are becoming mainstream these days. You can see biodegradable-rated bags available everywhere in Australia. Many prefer to use these environmentally friendly bags because they do not pose a danger to the environment. Similar to regular plastic bags, you can also utilise them for everyday use.
Biodegradable bags are either bio-based or fossil fuel-based. Biodegradation allows these materials to be converted into water, CO2 and biomass via the action of microorganisms, such as fungi and bacteria.
Do you want to learn more about biodegradable plastics and other materials? Read on.
What Are Biodegradable Materials?
Biodegradable materials decompose easily via the action of bacteria, fungi and other living organisms. These biodegradable substances are found in day-to-day usages, such as food wastes, tree leaves and grass clippings. Plant materials are mostly biodegradable.
Biodegradable materials can be easily handled. Many communities encourage people to compost materials and further use them as organic-rich soil called humus.
The following are examples of biodegradable materials:
- Food waste
- Human waste
- Sewage sludge
- Hospital waste
- Slaughterhouse waste
- Dead animals and plants.
So, how about biodegradable plastic bags? What are they and are they really biodegradable?
5 Types of Biodegradable Plastics
Biodegradable plastics are not created equal. The following explores each of these types.
Plastic material is considered bioplastic if produced partly or entirely with biologically sourced polymers. Meanwhile, a material is considered biodegradable if it degrades into water, carbon dioxide and biomass in a given period.
That’s why not every bioplastic material is considered biodegradable. In many cases, bio-based plastic, such as biodegradable garbage bags, is just partially bio-based.
These types of plastics are believed to be biodegradable.
However, oxo-degradable plastics are simply conventional plastics with additives mixed into them that speed up breakdown upon exposure to sunlight and oxygen. The additives improve the material’s fragmentation. Hence, the plastics don’t fully degrade but split into tiny particles that remain in the environment. They remain as vast quantities of microplastics rather than biological materials.
The goal of oxo-degradable material is to quicken the natural fragmentation process into smaller plastic particles. But there is no guarantee that oxo-degradable products would receive the necessary conditions, including light and heat, to start the fragmentation process.
Currently, there are two types of oxo-degradable available on the market: plant-based hydro-biodegradable plastic and petroleum-based oxo-biodegradable plastic.
This type of plastic reacts to exposure from ultraviolet light and requires initial oxo-degradation. Therefore, this type of bioplastic will be unable to disintegrate in a different condition.
Hydro-plastics degrade faster than oxo-degradable plastics and can be composted in an industrial composter.
Hydro-biodegradable material is made from plant-based sources, and the degradation is initiated by hydrolysis. This form of plastic is temperature-resistant, giving it the ability to decompose in both soil and water.
The primary difference between compostables and biodegradables is that compostable products require specific conditions to break down.
Composting occurs in aerobic environments that require oxygen, whereas biodegradation may happen in anaerobic environments or conditions with no oxygen. Compositing also involves speeding up the decomposition of materials via the action of microorganisms under oxygen-rich conditions.
Compostable plastic doesn’t leave toxic chemicals behind. In many cases, compostable resins are made from potato, starch, soybean protein, cellulose, as well as petroleum and petroleum byproducts.
However, when you buy compostable products, be sure that they meet precise standards. Also, note that compostable plastics don’t break down on their own in a landfill as litter or in marine environments. These materials must be composted at composting facilities.
What Is the Best Type of Biodegradable Plastic?
Polylactide acid (PLA) is considered the most eco-friendly plastic.
This biodegradable saves two-thirds of the energy needed to make traditional plastic. PLA is widely used for food containers and looks and behaves like polyethylene and polypropylene. Moreover, PLA produces 70% fewer greenhouse gases when it degrades in landfills.
Are There Any Biodegradable Bags?
Many biodegradable bags can be purchased on the market and sometimes given for free.
The end goal of biodegradable bags is bioassimilation. Remember that biodegradable products only decompose in certain conditions, and you must be cautious about how you dispose of them. The location and conditions in its final destination will also determine the product’s effectiveness.
The use of biodegradable plastic bags is only part of a comprehensive solution to plastic pollution. These biodegradables must also be properly disposed of.
A majority of biodegradable plastic bags end up in landfills. However, such conditions are hostile to the biodegrading process. Three factors critical to decomposition are air, moisture and sunlight, which are purposely kept out of landfills to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
For this reason, it is crucial to dispose of your biodegradable bags in a facility where they can receive optimum amounts of oxygen and airflow. Unfortunately, most consumers are unaware that landfills, incinerators and recycling facilities do not offer these conditions.
Bonnie Bio – Sustainable Compostable Packaging in Australia
The general public must stay focused on decreasing the use of conventional plastic to speed up the planet’s transition from conventional fossil fuel plastics to biodegradable plastics.
So, do your part against plastics.
If you are looking for a trusted supplier of environmentally friendly products in Australia, we can help you.
Bonnie Bio aims to make a difference with our internationally certified compostable plastic alternatives. All of our products are made from natural ingredients with no harsh chemical additives to ensure safety and non-toxicity. We offer a range of compostable products that includes garbage bags in various sizes for both home use and in business and commercial applications.
For more information about our products, call us at (03) 9460 5655 today.