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Is Biodegradable Plastic a Future of Our Planet?

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Biodegradable plastic or bioplastic is a material that will break down naturally. Being less energy-intensive, biodegradable plastic has been hailed as a promising solution to reduce plastic pollution considering it can also decompose at a much faster rate. But is it really the better way?

Is biodegradable plastic the future of Earth?

Source: Julia Cameron [6]

The vagueness of “biodegradable” plastics

The fact that biodegradable plastic can break down faster naturally is yet a strong enough reason to say bioplastic is a better replacement. Each of the commonly used biodegradable plastics have their own characteristics and require different methods to degrade. However, this type of information is not shown. Napper's experiment showed that some bags which were labelled “biodegradable” disappeared entirely within three months in seawater, meanwhile other “biodegradable” bags were still floating in the oceans after three years[1]. This experiment proves the vagueness of biodegradable plastic labels that are leaving people guessing about its safety for the environment.


Biodegradable plastic requires a specific disposal procedure

“Biodegradable” plastic items that are not properly disposed can still contribute to ocean plastic pollution

Source: Brian Yurasits [7]

It is true that biodegradable plastic can break down faster than commonly used plastic material, but only in very specific methods and circumstances[2]. Biodegradable plastic requires a specific disposal procedure to decompose faster, which means it will take years to decompose just like a non-biodegradable plastic if thrown away in traditional landfills. Moreover, most of biodegradable plastic can only start breaking down effectively in above 50͒C, which is not a normal circumstance in our environment[3]. Thus, biodegradable plastic will still contribute to ocean plastic pollution and create micro-plastics that are harmful to marine life if it ends up in our oceans[4].

Biodegradable plastic encourages people to keep using single-use items

According to recent reports, people’s negligence toward single-use plastic is the highest cause of ocean plastic pollution[5]. Constant usage of biodegradable plastic can mislead people to keep using single-use plastic items, which is not the solution to end plastic pollution. Other than that, this can also encourage single-use items rather than a zero-waste alternative instead, such as using to-go cup over a reusable cup.


Bioplastic can be a temporary option to reduce the amount of plastic waste, but it is not a solution that can end global plastic pollution. So what is the solution to the widespread plastic waste issues we’re currently facing?

  1. Start with reshaping your own mindset! Building a mindset to reduce single-use items is the best thing you can do to end plastic pollution.

  2. Gradually switch to a more eco friendly lifestyle! Start with finding an alternative that fits you the most. You can always begin with the easiest steps, such as replacing single use plastic bags with reusable grocery tote bags.

  3. Educate your community! Social awareness and education are quite important to encourage changes in consumer behaviour toward responsible use and minimization of plastic litter.




[5]International Costal Cleanup Report 2017: Ocean Conservancy. https://






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