Saving our planet; one bag at a time

November 1, 2006

Warning: Misleading claims being made to fool you!

Filed under: Environment — Kaajal @ 3:10 pm

Unfortunately some people are passing off photo-degradable bags as biodegradable.

What exactly are biodegradable plastic bags?

You can be forgiven for believing that they would be bags that will do you and your environment no harm at all.

But there’s too much dishonesty and sophistry being practiced in the areas of recycling and biodegradability.

Unfortunately some people are passing off photo-degradable bags as biodegradable.

The difference is vast and the consequences are dangerous.

A biodegradable plastic bag can only be one that completely decomposes 100%.

But photo-degradable bags just break apart in sunlight to become a fine powder which retains all the poisons that go into making the plastic bag. This powder than flies into the soil where your food grows and the water you drink and the consequences are frightening. And invisible.

Then there are some plastic bags that have a large percentage of plastic and have had an element of starch added that just speeds up the process of photo-degradation.

Today we have a growing consumer awareness of the harm that plastic bags are doing and the more aware consumer is sensibly choosing to carry her own cloth bag when she goes shopping.

But lull her into thinking the problem has been solved and she’ll go back to using plastic bags. And if that ain’t dishonesty and obfuscation, what is?

So, if someone claims to be offering you compostible or biodegradable bags, do ask whether it truly decomposes one hundred percent.

12 Comments »

  1. There’s too much dishonesty and sophistry being practiced by people who attack biodegradable plastic. It is true that some hydro-biodegradable (starch-based) plastics contain polymer which just fragments, but this is not true of oxo-biodegradable plastic.

    The reduction in molecular weight caused by the oxo-biodegradable additive not only causes the plastic to fragment, but transforms it into a substance which will be consumed by bacteria present in the soil, and which is no longer a plastic. This is well established in the scientific literature, and anyone who denies that proposition must make his case on a proper scientific basis. Further, oxo-biodegradable plastics do not contain “heavy metals” or any other “poisons.”

    Comment by M Stephen — November 2, 2006 @ 4:01 pm

  2. Hi
    Unfortunatly sir your are making assumption with very incomplete and misleading information .but im sure it is because nobody told you about it .
    A biodégradable bag is a bag being consumed by microorganism that is converted to CO2 ,H2o and biomass
    100% conversion doesn’t exist .
    Polyethylene can be made biodegradable by mixing it with metal salt which are going to make it oxydisable by heat and UV ,allowing microorganism to colonise it and convert it to co2,h2O ,and biomass.Numerous scientist have showed it .
    These are called oxo-biodégradable plastics,and this materials if disgarded in the nature ,i will disappeared where as a biodegradable bag wil need much more specifics conditions for the same end result
    This has be opposed to photodegradable material that you are discribing which are very old technologie and not too much on the market anymore .
    have look at http://www.degradable.net.
    best regards

    Comment by chonmi — November 2, 2006 @ 6:10 pm

  3. Thanks for your comments guys. And thanks to the link to degradable.net. I will read it with interest.

    Doesn’t address the real issue, though.

    Not even 1% of the million bags being discarded every minute 24/7 are of the types you talk about.

    When these technologies mature enough to become a substantial percentage of the bags being used, I will agree with what you are saying, but until that happens, I stick to my belief that plastic bags are a huge scourge on our earth.

    Comment by rajiv — November 6, 2006 @ 5:05 pm

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