New kinds of plant-based plastic are starting to permeate our lives. Supermarkets inventory biodegradable bags to hold our groceries home, cafes serve coffee in compostable cups, and this year London Marathon runners may refuel with seaweed-based edible bubbles full of a sports drink.
There is no denying that we have a plastic disaster on our hands. A 2017 research discovered that, of the 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic generated since 1950, 6.3 billion tonnes have been dashed away. And whether it finishes up in landfill or in the sea, that plastic – because of the soundness and durability that it’s prized for – just isn’t going anywhere fast.
The subsequent year, a ban on single-use plastics together with drink stirrers, cotton buds, and plastic straws will come into effect in the UK. Canada lately introduced it is going to ban “dangerous” single-use plastics by 2021, turning into the newest in a protracted record of nations and states to restrict the usage of disposable plastics. This 12 months Glastonbury banned the sale of single-use plastic bottles on-site by changing them with aluminum cans and providing water refills to festivalgoers.
However, ditching single-use plastics by changing them with biodegradable or compostable versions might be inflicting more problems than it’s fixing. “What worries me is that this isn’t actually a solution, it’s just swapping one polymer for another,” says Mark Miodownik, professor of supplies and society at University College London. ”If they find yourself within the setting, then it actually does depend upon the situations that they discover themselves in as to whether they biodegrade in any reasonable time.”