Is compostable plastic actually plastic?

Release time:2023-09-19 Number of views: 41

Is compostable plastic actually plastic?

The use of plastic has become commonplace in our modern society. However, the environmental impact of plastic waste has become a growing concern. As a result, there has been a push for the development of alternative materials that can be more easily disposed of and have a lesser impact on the environment. Compostable plastic is one such alternative that has gained popularity in recent years. But is compostable plastic truly plastic? Let's delve deeper into the subject.

Compostable plastic, also known as biodegradable plastic, is designed to break down into natural elements such as water, carbon dioxide, and biomass when exposed to the right conditions, such as heat, moisture, and microorganisms present in composting facilities. It is often made from plant-based materials, such as cornstarch or sugarcane, rather than fossil fuels like traditional plastic.

The primary goal of compostable plastic is to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and oceans. It offers an alternative to conventional plastics, which can take hundreds of years to decompose, leaching harmful chemicals into the soil and water during the process. Compostable plastic, on the other hand, promises a more sustainable option that can potentially solve the plastic pollution problem.

However, there is some debate around the term "compostable plastic" and its classification as actual plastic. The main argument against labeling it as plastic lies in its ability to break down into non-toxic elements within a relatively short period of time. Traditional plastics, such as polyethylene or polypropylene, have long degradation times and can persist in the environment for centuries. Compostable plastic, with its ability to be fully decomposed within a matter of months, is viewed by some as a distinct category separate from conventional plastic.

To ensure that compostable plastic is indeed able to break down properly, it requires specific conditions found in industrial composting facilities. These facilities provide the ideal environment for the process to occur, including the right temperature, humidity, and microbial activity. If compostable plastic is not disposed of in the correct manner, such as in regular waste bins or recycling facilities, it may not break down as intended and can contribute to the overall plastic pollution problem.

Another argument against considering compostable plastic as actual plastic is that it cannot be recycled in the same way as conventional plastic. Although it shares similar properties with traditional plastic, such as durability and versatility, compostable plastic cannot undergo the same recycling processes due to the different materials and additives used in its production. This can make the recycling process complex and more expensive, potentially limiting its practicability.

In conclusion, while compostable plastic shares some characteristics with traditional plastic, it stands apart due to its ability to break down into non-toxic elements in a relatively short period of time. It offers a more sustainable option to traditional plastic, with the potential to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and oceans. However, compostable plastic requires specific conditions for proper decomposition and cannot be recycled in the same way as conventional plastic. Therefore, it can be argued that compostable plastic is not actually plastic in the traditional sense.

Next chapter: