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What’s in the word Biodegradable?

by Green Plastics


There is a great deal of confusion about the term “bioplastic”. Some believe that the definition of bioplastic means biodegradable plastic. Some people think that bioplastics will automatically “melt” when exposed to water.  There is a tendency to lump many of the new green plastics under the same umbrella: bioplastics, biodegradables, etc.  These leads to the media using a number of terms as if they were interchangeable: “eco-friendly”, “green”, “compostable”, “biodegradable”, “degradable”, “bioplastic”, etc. But these terms are very different when looking at them from a scientific perspective.

Bioplastics in a technical sense are simply plastics created from the use of a biological feedstock: the starch from corn, potatoes, grass, trees, or other living or once living material. Biodegradable plastics, on the other hand, are defined scientifically as “…when the degradation is the result of naturally-occurring micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungi and algae.”  As it turns out, creating plastic from biological feedstock (“bioplastic”) could result in plastics that are biodegradable, compostable, or even non-biodegradable like the traditional plastics like we see on the market today!


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