Biodegradable Bags: Why They Are Good For The Environment
Plastic is a problem. While the invention of plastic has done a massive amount for humanity, revolutionizing everything from sanitation to health care, no technological advance comes without its price. Improperly discarded plastic is one of the most urgent problems facing the environment today. According to the U.S. Environmental Agency, only 8% of the 31 million tons of plastic waste produced each year is recycled. Much of the rest ends up as litter and pollution, clogging waterways, threatening wildlife, and releasing potentially toxic chemicals into the earth. Being so aware of this conflict is what drives our commitment to find greener ways of dealing with trash, especially when it comes to the production and disposal of plastic bags.
When biodegradable plastics first arrived on the scene, they were hailed as the scientific breakthrough that would cure all the problems that plastic can create. The idea of a plastic that would behave and break down just like a natural material seemed too good to be true. Was it? We took a look at the facts and found out.
What does “biodegradable” actually mean?
First, it will help define the sometimes confusing terms used when discussing biodegradable plastics.
“Regular” plastic is a synthetic material created from petrochemicals. Without getting too deep into the science, the long polymer chains in regular plastic are so resilient and resistant to breakdown that they can last for hundreds of years.
Biodegradable plastic, which is also made from petrochemicals, is manufactured differently to begin to break down quickly in the presence of air and sunshine. You might see this plastic labeled as photodegradable or oxy degradable. However, not all oxy-degradables are biodegradable.
How long does it take a plastic bag to degrade?
The time it takes a bag to decompose depends on what it’s made from and the amount of heat, light, air, and bacteria it’s exposed to. No one knows exactly how long a ‘normal’ plastic bag is likely to take to degrade, but estimates range from 10 years to a few hundred years. A biodegradable one, on the other hand, should degrade in two to four years in most cases. Don’t worry though; they’re designed to have a decent shelf-life; they won’t just disappear while they’re in your kitchen cupboard!
What’s the difference between compostable bags and biodegradable bags?
Compostable bags are made from 100% plant-based materials, which isn’t always the case with other biodegradable bags. Compostable bags also are usually only designed to break down with extreme heat, as many varieties were made with industrial composters and slow incineration plants in mind. Not all biodegradable plastic is compostable, and not all compostable plastic will biodegrade in normal conditions..
If you’re a mushroom grower that wants to start using biodegradable bags, don’t worry, We have you covered. We developed a line of biodegradable bags fifteen years ago. At that time, there was no interest in them, so we haven’t promoted them. Times change, and today, there seems to be a slight interest in these types of bags. Biodegradable bags are available on all polypropylene style bags we manufacture. Check this out for more information.