Plastic Sustainable?

what exactly does "biodegradable plastic" mean? Here’s everything you need to know about biodegradable plastic, if it’s actually sustainable, and what brands are using it.

The Problem With Biodegradable Plastics

The problem with biodegradable plastics is that not all of them are compostable. In other words, they will break down over time, but it will not add any beneficial nutrients to the soil during this process.


People will sometimes mistake biodegradable plastics for actual plastic and add them into their recycling bins. Many recycling facilities do not have the right machinery to recycle biodegradable plastics, so it often ends up in landfills.

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limited access to industrial composting

Not everyone has access to industrial composting facilities, which is often what’s needed to break down biodegradable plastic. In situations like this, biodegradable plastics will end up in the trash, or contaminate a recycling bin.

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used to make disposables

One last issue with biodegradable plastic is that it can often be treated like a stand-in for plastic. In other words, it can continue to encourage a disposal culture that is not sustainable. It's wasteful to use something only once.

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do THEY actually biodegrade?

Yes, biodegradable plastics do actually biodegradable. When an object biodegrades, its original composition breaks down into simpler components like biomass, carbon dioxide, and water.

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how long does it take to decompose?

Biodegradable plastics can take three to six months to decompose fully, depending on what they are made from. This is much quicker than plastic, which can take several hundred years to biodegrade into microplastics.

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so is biodegradable plastic sustainable?

It is sustainable if it has these qualities: — Is compostable — You have access to a recovery system — It's not single use

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