Defect discovered in compostable plastic, 60% does not decompose – Biotech

A big defect has been discovered in plastic certified as compostable even at home: 60% does not really decompose and therefore ends up polluting even more vegetable gardens and gardens where it is unknowingly reused.
This was stated by a study by the University College of London, published in the journal Frontiers in Sustainability, which involved British citizens in a great experiment. The research also shows how labels applied to compostable and biodegradable plastic items are misleading and confuse consumers, leading to incorrect waste disposal.

Global plastic pollution is one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time: a report published last February by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows that plastic consumption has quadrupled in the last 30 years, and only 9% is recycled. The demand for compostable plastics is therefore growing more and more, with uses in organic waste bags, food packaging, plates and cutlery.

The problem, highlighted by the study led by Danielle Purkiss, is that this type of plastic is currently incompatible with most waste management systems and there is no international standard for domestic compostable plastics. The fate of these plastics, once thrown away, is therefore incineration or landfilling, a fact of which consumers are unaware.

“We have shown that home composting, being uncontrolled, is largely ineffective and not a good method of disposal for compostable packaging,” says Purkiss. “The idea that a material can be sustainable is a widespread misunderstanding: in reality – adds the researcher – what is sustainable is the system by which that material is produced and recycled”.