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Unrealistic natural temperatures are required for proper composting.

UN says biodegradable plastic does zero to protect the ocean


Daksha Rangan
Digital Reporter

Saturday, November 21, 2015, 3:03 PM - The recent advent of biodegradable plastic left many feeling better about tossing plastic packaging in the garbage, but according to a recent UN report, eco-plastic does little-to-nothing for the world’s plastic-infested oceans.

Twenty million tonnes of plastic drift through oceans every year, killing and threatening hundreds of species of marine wildlife.

When biodegradable plastic enters the ocean, it rarely disintegrates, the UN report notes. Biodegradable plastic is no feat for the bottom of the ocean, with cooler temperatures and limited oxygen.

To decompose, eco-plastic needs industrial composters and exposure to temperatures above 50°C, the CBC reports. These conditions are tough to come by naturally, especially in regions like the Arctic.


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"[O]n many things the Arctic kind of catches it in the teeth,” Paul Crowley, one of the authors of the UN report, tells the CBC. Crowley works as director of the World Wildlife Fund Canada Arctic Program.

”[W]e get the worst of climate change, we get double the warming, the worst of ocean acidification and now, you know, plastics end up here,” he adds.

There’s a particular concern about the damage that biodegradable plastic can have due to its labeling. People are likely to feel more inclined to litter when seeing a biodegradable plastic label, the CBC reports, because they don’t believe they’re creating any waste.

The UN report’s authors suggest minimal use of plastic and proper recycling as one ideal course of action to eliminate plastic pollution.

SOURCE: CBC | TIME | Plastic Oceans

Thumbnail image courtesy of Pixabay.

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