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Is biodegradable plastic really a thing?

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By illuminem briefings

· 1 min read

illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on The New York Times or enjoy below:

🗞️ Driving the news: Biodegradable plastic exists but often requires specific conditions to break down, which are not widely available
•  Most biodegradable plastics like PLA need industrial composting to degrade properly
•  Without these conditions, they may end up in landfills or oceans, contributing to pollution

🔭 The context: Industrial composting facilities, necessary for biodegradable plastics, are scarce in the U.S.
• Consequently, biodegradable plastics often fail to decompose as intended
• This complexity about plastic recycling  misleads consumers and complicates recycling processes

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: Misuse of biodegradable plastics can exacerbate environmental pollution
• Proper degradation is essential to reducing plastic waste's long-term impact and mitigating climate change

⏭️ What's next: Research is ongoing to develop more effective biodegradable plastics
•  Innovations include plastics made from corncobs and cheese waste byproducts, aiming to improve degradation rates and reduce production costs

💬 One quote: “It’s complicated, because biodegradability changes depending on where you’re at and what happens to your plastic,” said George W. Huber, University of Wisconsin-Madison

📈 One stat: According to UNEP, the world produces 430 million metric tons of plastic annually, with only 9% being recycled

Click for more news covering the latest on environmental pollution

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