Biodegradable plastics and the need for labeling

Plastic today is key to life, we could not think of it without this material, mainly for the great diversity of industries that resort to it for its versatility, lightness, cost, and resistance.

The problem lies mainly in the decomposition time that this type of raw material has, contaminating hundreds of ecosystems in the sea, soil, land, and air. The truth is that the advance of technology allowed the creation and elaboration of much more environmentally friendly containers, made from vegetable resins that replace fossil fuels, this type of material, undoubtedly have great advantages, however, the scope is still very small, compared to the large number of plastic containers that are in circulation around the world.

Compostable or biodegradable plastics are presented as a solution to the environmental damage that every day is more noticeable, however, there is an interesting question in this area that needs to be raised, Can biodegradable plastics solve the problem of plastic pollution?

The answer to this question must be evaluated from different points of view, the first one has to do with obtaining the raw material, that is, how viable is the use of resins that come from vegetables, considering if they are available to everyone if there is enough for the production of a considerable percentage of biodegradable plastics.

The second part is to find out how “green” they are, since many of these resins are added with polymers that do not allow their complete absorption and disintegration without specific treatment. This is because the conditions for their correct degradation such as humidity, oxygen, the presence of nutrients, and microorganisms are essential factors.

Now, it is important to make a distinction between packaging made of a resin of vegetable origin and another packaging that has the ability to be biodegradable. Both options represent a contribution to sustainability in different percentages, however, either type of packaging requires the knowledge of the consumer so that its process can be completed.

It is vitally important that the identification of the type of plastic from which each article or part is manufactured is mandatory since this facilitates the process of selection and separation of plastics and recycling would be easier.

Currently, there is no standard that obliges manufacturers of plastic products or supplies to identify the type of plastic from which the manufactured part is made; a situation that is left to the manufacturer’s discretion, whether to do so or not.

It can be seen in the market that there are many plastic products that are not properly identified by the materials that have been manufactured. This causes great problems since it is not easy to identify with certainty the type of plastic it is, significantly limiting its selection and the recycling process.

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