Here at Plastic Ingenuity, we fully support any environmentally conscious efforts in our packaging production, and our PLA packaging line is a testament to that.
That being said, biodegradable packaging is continuing to become more and more popular among consumers. So what do manufacturers mean when they refer to something as "biodegradable?"
What is biodegradable plastic?
Currently, two types of biodegradable plastic exist: plant-based hydro-degradable plastic and petroleum-based oxo-biodegradable plastic. As biodegradable plastic breaks down, microorganisms like bacteria convert the plastic to water, biomass and carbon dioxide.
Many elements are used to create biodegradable plastic and packaging, including polyanhydrides, polyvinyl alcohol and compostable additives.
What is biodegradable plastic used for?
True biodegradable packaging has not been fully integrated into all plastic products at this time. Currently, biodegradable plastic is being used most commonly for items like plastic bags, food containers, trays and utensils. It is also being used for packing peanuts and other protective packaging items.
How much can they compost?
Biodegradable does not necessarily mean it will completely go away—instead, it means it has the potential to be broken down completely, and can benefit from additives in the soil that facilitate decomposition. Compost, on the other hand, can break down all the way to the soil without additives. Some products do include composting as part of their packaging solutions, but it is not as common as biodegradable items at this point in time.
Other green options
Biodegradable packaging has many advantages, but it does not diminish the advantages of recycling traditional, petroleum-based plastic. When properly handled and recycled, traditional plastics can save energy and reduce waste just as effectively. Recycling options and recycling plants are becoming increasingly common as well, making plastic recycling an increasingly easier option for consumers.
What are your thoughts on the future of biodegradable plastic and packaging? Are you using them for your packaging solutions? Would you like to see them used for everyday products? Leave a comment below, or let us know on our Facebook or Twitter.