Before we get started: what is bioplastic anyway?
To make it complicated, we must first distinguish between the different types of bioplastic.
We generally use two types to describe bioplastic: biobased plastics , made from natural raw materials and biodegradable or compostable plastics .
Not all biobased plastics are biodegradable and not all biodegradable plastics are biobased.
Do you still get it ?!
Quite complicated, but it may sound like a nice development. Is that really true?
We discuss 5 myths and ambiguities around this packaging form.
Bioplastic is the solution for our plastic addiction
Unfortunately not! Bioplastic is usually designed to replace disposable plastic packaging. It therefore remains a plastic packaging that you use once and then discard.
It therefore does not contribute to reducing our disposable culture.
As long as we do not invest in packaging-free innovations or reusable and refillable packaging, we will continue to throw away valuable resources.
And using something once, that is not sustainable.
Bioplastic is compostable on your own compost heap
No, biodegradable plastic hardly breaks down in the environment.
This requires very specific circumstances.
For example, compostable plastic packaging takes 12 weeks in a composting plant to break down.
For this reason, according to Milieucentraal, the packaging may not be placed in the biowaste container and placed on your home compost, the packaging will still look the same after one year.
It’s also not discard it with the plastic waste because it contaminates the plastic recycling.
What happens then? Incineration!
Bioplastic does not contribute to the plastic soup
A 2015 United Nations study shows that bioplastic does not cause a decrease in plastic waste that ends up in the sea.
Bioplastic hardly breaks down in seawater, making it just as polluting as ‘ordinary’ plastic.
Sadly enough, a sea turtle can still choke in a biodegradable plastic container.
Bioplastic is environmentally friendly
Biobased plastics are made from natural raw materials such as sugar cane or corn.
Usually these are agricultural products produced through intensive agriculture.
Growing these crops takes a lot of energy, land and water.
This form of agriculture has more negative environmental effects ; for example, fertilizers and pesticides are used for the production of these crops.
Bioplastic is needed as packaging to distinguish organic products
Stores are required by law to make clear distinction between organic and non-organic products.
But how the distinction is made is up to the retailer!
That is not necessary for (plastic) packaging.
A lasered label or a small sticker is often enough.
Bioplastic is therefore not the miracle solution for our plastic crisis.
If we really want to focus on a sustainable and environmentally friendly solution, then we have to produce drastically less disposable plastic.
Switching to bioplastic is a fake solution. We must give priority to reduction and reuse.
That means investing in packaging-free options or reusable or refillable packaging.
Published on greenpeace.org