What Is A Biodegradable Garbage Bag?

Jul. 22, 2021

Before we delve into biodegradable garbage bags, let’s quickly review what “biodegradable” means.

Biodegradable refers to "the ability to be specifically decomposed into harmless products through the action of organisms (such as microorganisms).

That is until you realize that breaking down plastic into microplastics is not an environmentally friendly way to dispose of household waste, dog feces, or anything.

In fact, if it leaves microplastics, by definition, it is not even biodegradable, but simply degradable.

For something biodegradable, it must leave only natural elements. Plastic, no matter how small, is definitely not like that.

Although "biology" may cause images of nature and plants (some biodegradable garbage bags are made this way), biodegradable plastic is also a thing.

This is usually just petrochemical-based plastic, manufactured in this way, contact with something will help it break down faster. You may see words such as "photodegradable" or "oxidatively degradable", which refer to garbage bags that decompose in the sun or the air, respectively.

Both do not involve living organisms (bacteria, fungi, etc.), which makes these bags a worse alternative to traditional plastic garbage bags. When they enter our environment, they are as bad as ordinary plastic bags (although their prices are much higher)!

Another problem with biodegradable plastics is that they cannot be recycled like other types of plastics—and they actually contaminate recyclables that are perfectly sorted.

What is bioplastic?

There are also bioplastics, which can be mixed with petroleum-based plastics in biodegradable kitchen garbage bags or compostable garbage bags.

These are usually made from plant-based and renewable materials, such as corn (polylactic acid/PLA), grain, sugar cane, starch or vegetable oil.

To make bioplastics like PLA, the sugar found in sugar cane, cornstarch or tapioca is immersed in a hot water-sulfur dioxide solution so that the different ingredients (fiber, protein and starch) become "usable".

These compounds are then ground to separate the starch into biodegradable bags.

Finally, it is essentially a long-chain carbon molecule, much like plastic (especially polyethylene).

Another type of bioplastic is PHA, or polyhydroxyalkanoate. This is made by genetically engineered microorganisms that consume organic materials to generate carbon reserves.

At the end of the process, the PHA made by microorganisms has a plastic-like structure. In addition to food packaging and medical products, it can also be used to collect garbage bags.

Material Biodegradable is another plant starch bioplastic, and cellophane (you may have heard of it) is a wood bioplastic.

One benefit of all bioplastics is that they do not contain toxins such as bisphenol A (BPA).

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