UK Study Shows that Biodegradable Bags Might Not Be Effective in Protecting the Environment

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Many companies have turned their attention toward making a change in how we affect our environment. They started to use biodegradable bags instead of plastic ones. And we could finally breathe relieved knowing that we lower the waste and the toxicity in our oceans.

However, new research commissioned by the UK Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs is now showing that the new bags are not that great. Furthermore, they’re now considering if they should grant tax exemptions for biodegradable materials in this case.

Authors of the study have reached a conclusion. After analyzing the biodegradability of the bags that the regional testing and the international standards, they could not predict if a bag is actually safe for marine environment:

“In addition to these issues, the toxicological and wider environmental impacts of aquatic plastic debris remain insufficiently understood,” added the report.

A Biodegradable Bag Still Degrades Into Microplastics

Thomas Neitzert is an engineering professor (AUT), and he said that this research shows that biodegradable bags are not safe for the environment. He explains that it has the same impact on water as plastic, as it degrades into microplastics:

“Until it degrades, it is a fully functional plastic bag with all its disadvantages. It causes problems to marine life and in the process of disintegrating, which takes six months, two years, and longer, it creates smaller particles that can then be ingested by marine life…

Neitzert added that we could not save the marine life by using biodegradable bags:

“A biodegradable bag can actually never be the end solution to what we’re after, which is causing no harm to marine life and [no] pollution on earth and in the water.”

Kim Pickering is a professor at the Waikato University, explaining that using biodegradable bags is the first step in finding the right path. But these bags contain additives that still cause problems:

“Unless we know what is exactly in them, then that could be causing problems from the toxicity effects.”

She also said that there is a way to create biodegradable plastics that can break down and not harm the environment. But the consumers have to be aware which bags are the right ones.

Recycling has been a solution until now, but sometimes, biodegradable materials are a better option. However, manufacturers and consumers will have to take into consideration that they’re all responsible for how they use and dispose of the products.

Rex Austin

Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere