Researchers found that biodegradable bags and compostable were still able to carry a full load of shopping after being left to degrade in the elements for three years they don’t decay nearly as fast as you’d expect.
The question raised whether the biodegradable chemical mixtures in these bags go far enough. If the plastic is still in the environment three years after being discarded, that’s still a major litter and pollution problem that needs dealing with.
“After three years, I was really amazed that any of the bags could still hold a load of shopping,” For a biodegradable bag to be able to do that was the most surprising.
The team tested five different types of plastic bag material in total : two types of oxo-biodegradable bags, one biodegradable bag, one compostable bag, and a conventional high-density polyethylene plastic bag.
All five plastic types were tested in the open air, buried in soil, and submerged in the ‘ocean‘. The researchers measured surface area loss and disintegration over time, as well as tensile strength, surface texture and chemical structure.
None of the bags completely deteriorated in all three environments.
Through their analysis, the researchers are hoping to raise awareness of what “biodegradable” actually means when it comes to plastic bags.
Something that can be recycled in the heat and pressure of an industrial facility might not disappear anywhere near as quickly in the natural environment.
We demonstrate here that the materials tested did not present any consistent, reliable and relevant advantage in the context of marine litter.