A plastic bag remains stable for a long time – even if it was made from biodegradable plastic. A study by researchers at the UK’s University of Plymouth. Accordingly, these pouches can be three years in the soil or sea, nor so tear-resistant that you can even carry more than two kilograms of contents. The most disintegrated of biodegradable plastic – as well as ordinary plastic, if he was exposed to the air and the sun, the researchers write Imogen Napper and Richard Thompson in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

you wanted to pursue the question of whether biodegradable, oxo-degradable and compostable plastics – which are often considered as a possible solution against the accumulation of plastic waste and waste – a real Alternative to conventional plastic. Oxo-degradable plastics contain additives which allow the Material to rapidly disintegrate. Because the micro-plastic is created, which is hardly reduced further, there are efforts in the EU to ban such plastics.

Napper and Thompson tested what happens with the different types of Plastic, including polyethylene (PE), from which the majority of plastic bags consist of, in soil, water and air. To do this, you cut the bags into small strips.

Outdoor were plastic strips – including the polyethylene was decomposed at the latest after 18 months, which the researchers attributed to the higher proportions of ultra-violet radiation and oxygen in combination with higher temperatures, was exposed to the plastic. In the sea of compostable plastic had dissolved after 18 months, while he was in the ground even after 27 months. However, he was no longer so resilient. The bag of compostable plastic was the only one who could carry, after three years of no content. Bags made from oxo-degradable, biodegradable and ordinary plastic, which had been three years in the sea and in the earth, from the other hand, kept to 2.25 kilograms in weight.

The researchers recommend to grab more bags, which often can be used. However, a cloth bag is from environmental point of view, only better than a plastic bag, if it is often used sums up the nature conservation Federation (Nabu).


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