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Biodegradable Plastics: A Concept that Needs to Be Correctly Understood (Part 1)

May. 25, 2020
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03

Compostable bag = biodegradable plastic?

Not completely equivalent, compostable plastics belong to the category of biodegradable plastics. Biodegradable plastics also include plastics that can be biodegraded in an anaerobic manner.

Compostable plastics refer to plastics that can be converted into carbon dioxide, water and mineralized inorganic salts of elements and new biomass within a certain period of time under the composting conditions, and finally formed The content of heavy metals in compost, toxicity tests, residual debris, etc. shall comply with the relevant standards. Compostable plastics can be further divided into industrial composts and garden composts. The compostable plastics on the market are basically biodegradable plastics under industrial composting conditions.

Because compostable fruit bags are biodegradable under certain conditions, if you discard disposable compostable plastics in a natural environment (such as seawater, soil), these plastics degrade very slowly in the natural environment and cannot be short It is completely degraded into carbon dioxide and water within a period of time, and its adverse effects on the environment are not substantially different from traditional plastics. In addition, some studies have pointed out that biodegradable plastics mixed with other recyclable plastics will reduce the characteristics and performance of recycled materials. For example, the starch in polylactic acid may cause deterioration such as holes and spots in the film made of recycled plastic.

Compostable Fruit Bags

Compostable Fruit Bag

04

How to regulate the labeling of biodegradable plastics?

China has no mandatory standards or regulations for biodegradable plastic labels. The relevant standard is GB / T20197-2006 "Definition, Classification, Marking and Degradation Performance Requirements of Degradable Plastics", which specifies that the degradable plastic label should contain the main raw materials and composition information of the product, the degradation category or degradation method of the plastic, And the standard number. The requirements of the GB / T 20197 standard for labeling do not involve information such as accredited labeling, degradation assessment standard number, and whether it is recyclable.

The European Bioplastics Association recommends in its published guidelines: When a product claims that it is biodegradable, the product should state what degradation standards it meets (certification instructions and logo), the time when it can fully degrade, and ensure that it completes the biodegradation The location / condition of the degradation process. North Carolina and Alabama of the United States enacted legislation in 2013 (HB 315, Senate Bill 298), requiring that plastic products marked with degradable, biodegradable or compostable should also be marked with "non-recyclable, do not recycle" to avoid Mixed into other recyclable plastic products. The figure below shows a more standardized degradable label.

Facing the challenges of plastic waste and marine microplastic environmental hazards, the application of biodegradable plastics in food contact materials has received more and more respect and attention. China's biodegradable food contact materials industry is facing good development prospects. However, biodegradable plastics are not a panacea for solving plastic pollution. Only when they are used responsibly can they play their advantages and functions. The clear definition of biodegradable plastics, standardized labeling, and effective public education are the key measures to promote the healthy development of the biodegradable food packaging industry, develop a circular economy, and promote the effective management of plastic pollution.


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