Because of the differing chemical compositions, biodegradable plastics have to be separated from traditional plastics waste streams, to ensure high-quality recyclates production and the durability of plastic products.
Mixing the traditional and biodegradable plastics in the waste streams puts in jeopardy current efforts to increase plastics recycling rates.
With the increasing production of biodegradable products, it is essential to implement separate collection schemes for bio-waste.
Typically, the biodegradation often occurs only under industrial conditions when the products are exposed to high temperatures for an extended period of time. Additionally, once the biodegradable plastics reach the landfills the process of degradation is limited due to the lack of oxygen.
In marine environments, biodegradable products behave differently and very often their degradation is slowed-down even further.
“No finished product has yet been approved as marine biodegradable and the generic European standard on composting of packaging (EN 13432), only guarantees the biodegradation of packaging under managed, industrial conditions.” – Bioplastics in a Circular Economy : The need to focus on waste reduction and prevention to avoid false solutions
A study conducted on biodegradable carrier bags concludes that these products would not aid in efforts to reduce marine pollution as their rate of degradation is far too slow to show significant effects in the near future.