Plastic is everywhere, we make everything nowadays from the stuff. The problem with plastic is it isn’t biodegradable., so getting rid of it has become tricky. We recycle as much as we can but there is still so much being thrown away, so would it be easier if it would rot away like food does?
Biodegradation is Vital
We have to recycle many plastics because they don’t biodegrade, but imagine ones that did, we wouldn’t have issues anymore, it would act like food did when it rots away. Biodegradation is essential for our planets survival as it converts waste into nutrients and energy that living things need to survive. It happens when micro-organisms eat whatever they can, producing nutrients as waste products, but they can’t eat plastic, and this is where we run into problems.
Plastic could potentially be broken down by sunlight over hundreds of years, but thinking about al the plastic we use on a daily basis, we would fill our planet in a hundred years and have nowhere to put more while we wait. This is why recycling became so important, and also the production of plastics treated with certain chemicals to make them biodegradable. It seemed like the solution was found and everyone was happy, until scientists actually studied these plastics.
Biodegradable Plastics actually aren’t Biodegradable
Scientists from Michigan took some common plastics used to make shopping bags and plastic bottles and treated them with various chemicals, they then put the treated plastic into 3 different environments to simulate normal soil, compost heaps and rubbish dumps.
They left the in a compost like environment for 6 months, in a rubbish heap environment for a year and a half and in a normal soil like environment for 3 years, and there was no difference in the amount micro-organisms had digested at all. In fact, they plastics didn’t even look degraded like you would expect.
So it seems that the best way to get rid of plastic is, avoid buying it in the first place and always, always recycle.