Biobased and Biodegradable - What Is It?
Bioplastics are either Biobased (materials made from SUSTAINABLE renewable feedstock, such as corn, soy, and wheat) and/or Biodegradable (materials that completely assimilate into water, CO2, and/or biomass).
Do you know the difference between biodegradable products and commonly found products that are labeled "degradable"?
Many plastic products on the market claim to be biodegradable but are actually oxo-degradable plastic. These degradable plastics are manufactured by combining traditional plastics with additives which break down the plastic into small fragments. Because conventional plastic is not biodegradable, the tiny fragments left behind from degradable plastics pose environmental and health concerns.
Industry and consumers looking for a true biodegradable and sustainable substitute to conventional plastic materials should instead choose a certified 100% compostable plastic. Under ambient conditions compostable materials will be broken down by microbes in the environment and consumed as a food source. This is the process that converts carbon into energy and maintain life.
Look for the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) certification logo on products to ensure they are truly compostable.
Compostability: Fragmentation and Biodegradation
Composting is a two-step process including fragmentation and biodegradation. Composting is the biological process of breaking up organic matter such as food, manure, leaves, grass trimmings, paper, coffee grounds, and bioplastics, etc., resulting in biomass (nutrient rich soil amendments). Fragmentation is the first step in this process when we notice material turning into smaller pieces. The second step is biodegradation when oxygen breathing microbes (micro-organisms) consume the organic matter as food and convert it into biomass, water, and carbon dioxide (CO2).
Biodegradability - Complete assimilation of the fragmented product as food source by the soil micro-organisms.
Compostability - Complete assimilation within 180 days in a industrial compost environment.
Carbon Footprint - What Is It?
Converting atmospheric carbon into petroleum through biomass takes millions of years, whereas releasing the carbon from the petroleum back in the environment takes only 1-10 years. This huge imbalance between the rates of carbon fixation and release makes the use of petroleum completely unsustainable from an environmental perspective.