Are Plastic Bags Biodegradable?

When it comes to plastic bags, most people think about their use as grocery bags. However, other types of plastic bags are also used for other purposes.

What Are the Risks Associated with Plastic Bags? There are a few risks associated with using plastic bags. One is that they can be harmful if they end up in the environment. 

They can also be harmful if they are blown around by the wind and end up in other places where they could be dangerous, such as near power lines.

There is a lot of debate over whether or not plastic bags are biodegradable. Some people say they are, while others say they are not. The main reason that people believe that plastic bags are not biodegradable is that they think that the bags break down into smaller pieces and then enter the environment in large numbers.

What Are Biodegradable Bags Used For?

Some people use biodegradable plastic bags to store food because they are worried about the environment.

One of the main reasons people use plastic bags is that they are biodegradable. This means that the bags can be broken down into smaller pieces and eliminated from the environment.

What study says, Are Plastic Bags Biodegradable?

A new study by the University of Plymouth has found that plastic bags exposed to the natural environment can still hold a whole load of shopping after being stored for three years.

The University of Plymouth examined the degradation of five plastic bag materials commonly found in high street retailers in the UK. The materials were then left exposed to air, soil, and sea environments they could potentially encounter if discarded as litter.

The materials were monitored at regular intervals and, after nine months in the open air, all of the materials had wholly disintegrated into fragments.

The biodegradable, oxo-biodegradable, and conventional plastic formulations remained functional as carrier bags in the soil or marine environment for over three years.

Within three months, the compostable bag completely disappeared from the experimental test rig in the marine environment. However, while showing some signs of deterioration, it was still present in the soil after 27 months.

The most pertinent question is whether biodegradable formulations can be relied upon to offer a sufficiently advanced rate of degradation to offer any real solution to the problem of plastic litter.

Why is ‘biodegradable’ ain’t that great?

“Biodegradable” implies a thing is made from plant-based materials. But this isn’t continuously the case. There are significant problems with “biodegradable” plastic, including the lack of laws or standards to ensure it’s being done correctly. Various plastics labeled “biodegradable” are conventional fossil-fuel plastics that can be degradable (as all plastic is) or even “oxo-degradable,” where chemical additives perform the fossil fuel fragment into microplastics.

The National Plastics Plan intends to work with manufacturers to phase out this problematic “fragmentable” plastic by July 2022. It is done to reduce the amount of plastic in landfills, oceans, and the earth’s surface. However, it’s often unknown what type of conditions biodegradable plastics can break down and how long it will take.

Compostable plastics aren’t much better.

Compostable plastic is a type of plastic that can be composted. It’s specifically designed to break down into natural, non-toxic elements in the right conditions.

There are regulations and standards for compostable plastics, so if an item doesn’t have a certification label, it’s not necessarily compostable.

Most maximum certified compostable plastics are not meant for use in home composts. It suggests they may not break down adequately in a home setting.

Even though certified compostable plastics are growing in popularity, there aren’t enough industrial composting facilities that allow them. And while many people consider putting compostable plastics in their curbside organic recycling bins, this is still considered contamination because most recycling bins don’t currently accept these types of materials.

Even if compostable plastics can be certified to an appropriate facility, their economic value is reduced when they cannot be used in packaging and products. Instead, they are only valuable for returning nutrients to the soil and potentially capturing a fraction of the energy used to produce them.

If you don’t have a suitable collection system for compostable plastic and end up in a landfill, that might be more dangerous than traditional plastic. Compostable plastics can release methane gas – a much more dominant greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide – in a landfill, just like food waste does.


Some municipalities have programs that will collect and recycle bio-degradable plastics.

There is some debate about whether or not certified compostable plastics break down in a home setting. They may not be able to degrade in an industrial composting facility either, so they would still be considered contamination. 

Additionally, the economic value of these materials is reduced when they cannot be used in packaging and products. They are only valuable for returning nutrients to the soil and potentially capturing a fraction of the energy used to produce them. If you don’t have a suitable collection system for compostable plastic and end up in a landfill, that might be more dangerous than traditional plastic.

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Vihaan Nagal

संवेष्टन अभियान्ता | Packaging Engineer | Verpackung Ingenieur *Free time blogger *Believe in packaging reform (say naa to orthodox packaging) My life lies between degradable and non-degradable material.

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