Biodegradable plastics

  • The biological degradation of plastics appears to be a positive feature at first glance. If plastics are placed in the environment during their life cycle (production, processing, and use), they are broken down by means of biological degradation.
  • However, the biodegradability of plastics should certainly not be regarded as an alternative means of disposal such that plastics can simply be discarded in the environment.
  • In general, plastics should be collected in disposal systems after use and not simply discarded. The material streams from collection systems should be mechanically recycled if technically possible after being sorted into individual fractions.
  • In general, the degradation of the carbon chain in plastics in ambient conditions makes no sense as a possible energy source is degraded uselessly while releasing CO2. As long as the combustion of carbon is a major energy source for energy generation, thermal use (in other words, combustion to generate energy) should definitely be considered instead of degradation without any benefit.
  • Biodegradable plastics should mainly be used if their biodegradability presents a functional benefit. This may be the case in the following applications, for example:
Mulch foil Trash bags for organic waste Turf roll backing foil
Fertilizer backing material Plant clips/ties Plant pots
Practice ammunition Fireworks Coffee capsules
Urns Golf tees Fishing nets
  • If plastics are accidentally released into the environment, biodegradability (even over longer periods than required in typical certifications) may deliver a type of emergency solution due to decomposition and biodegradation of the plastic compared to conventional plastics.