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Green Wash of Biodegradable Plastic

Whether you’re considering switching your grocery bags, shopping bags, or trash bags, biodegradable plastic bags are a great alternative to regular plastic bags, in that they do not harm the environment during their whole life-cycle. As they are made from the by-product of oil-refining, they leave no residue behind, and can biodegradable naturally in the environment that contains oxygen. Their main advantage – apart from not harming the Earth in their manufacturing, use, and disposal – is that they provide an insurance for plastic bags and single use plastics "if" they were disposed in the environment that were not supposed to be, such as ocean, lake, or on the tree.

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Biodegradable plastic bags do not harm wildlife nor marine-wildlife, since they biodegrade in the environment that contains oxygen after their pre-determined safe service life and if swallowed by animals, are digested quickly as they disintegrate.

There are various kinds of biodegradable plastic bags in the market, but it is important for you to determine what is really environmentally friendly. Companies are mostly claiming biodegradability and unfortunately the green-wash has taken over the lingo. Any type of biodegradable plastic, that conform to compostability standards ASTM D6400 or EN 13432 are only biodegradable and compostable in "windrow composting" which is too expensive and it takes more carbon footprint to transport them to the facility.

Only oxo-biodegradable plastic that has been fully-tested and certified is solution for plastic waste and polution: A very small amount of pro-degradant additive is put into the manufacturing process. This breaks the molecular chains in the polymer, and at the end of its useful life the product falls apart. The plastic does not just fragment, but will be consumed by bacteria and fungi after the additive has reduced the molecular weight to a level which permits micro-organisms access to the carbon and hydrogen. 


1. Check the vendor’s claims about the biodegradable plastic bags. If the bags contain plastic (or technically called Polyethylene), it is our responsibility to convert them to biodegradable plastics, but instead of using corn starch that may result to impact of food shortage, we need to protect the existing supply chain and help the plastic industry to GO GREEN.
2. Check if the vendor has certification for the material. The only acceptable certification that doesn't create extra carbon footprint should be ASTM D 6954 or using technology that is certified by Oxo-Biodegradable Plastic Association (www.biodeg.org).
3. If the price of the biodegradable plastic bags is too much higher than ordinary plastic bags, you are probably not going to be successful, because GO GREEN should be to make an affordable and conscious choice, not to affect our current life economy.

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