It's Not Easy Being Green.

Topics: Recycling, Biodegradation, Biodegradable plastic Pages: 2 (699 words) Published: May 2, 2011
Biodegradable is a popular word these days. Everyone is concerned about the environment. But it's also a word that is easily misunderstood. Biodegradable bags come in several forms, but there are big differences between them… and it's very possible that none may be the right choice for your client. Before deciding on biodegradable bags, understanding the environmental concerns is essential. Especially in areas where laws exist concerning plastic bags. Simply defined, biodegradable means that an item will break down into natural organic matter. How this happens is where things get complicated. Different types of biodegradable plastic have different triggers to start the breakdown: exposure to oxygen, high heat, mechanical stress, UV, presence of other decomposing material, etc. Compostable bags, made of PLA, a starch based polymer, are made using corn or other food crops. These require very specific high-heat aerobic conditions found in municipal composting facilities to break down. These have to be sent to a composting facility to break down, and can't be recycled. Oxo-biodegradable plastic breaks down when exposed to sunlight and heat. These will disintegrate if left outside, or littered, and can be recycled American Plastic Mfg.'s biodegradable bags are made with an additive from ECM-Biofilms that allows plastic to break down when in contact with other decomposing organic matter. For most applications, we feel this is the best biodegradable option. These bags have all the properties of normal plastic bags, can be reused and recycled with other plastic bags, and if littered or landfilled, will biodegrade safely. There are no easy answers when it comes to the environment. Biodegradable plastics aren't always the best solution. Consumers may be confused about the proper disposal method for the particular item, as the terms can be confusing. They may also be prone to careless disposal, assuming that biodegradable bags pose no environmental harm if littered, which...
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