Biodegradable Plastic Bags

Protect the environment with biodegradable trash bags

Regular plastic bags are considered by many to be a menace to the environment. They take an extremely long time to break down, and when they finally do, what's left over can still be a toxic pollutant. With more and more people wanting to do their part to reduce waste, switching to biodegradable plastic bags can be a good start.

In a landfill, biodegradable bags can break down in as little as three months—a mere flicker of time when compared to the hundreds of years it can take before regular plastic bags finally decompose. With exposure to oxygen, heat and sunlight, biodegradable plastic bags will melt away into a benign mass of biomass, water, sodium and carbon dioxide.

Types of Biodegradable Bags

Biodegradable waste bags are available in several different types designed for specific applications. For example, biodegradable compost bags are specially designed to house organic waste that will break down quickly, while biodegradable trash bags have features that speed up their biodegradation in landfill environments. Always choose biodegradable bags which are meant for the intended application.

There are two major types of biodegradable shopping bags: the older type is comprised primarily of polyethylene, lead, beryllium and cadmium with some starch-based compounds. The newer type uses starches as well, but combines them with polylactic acid and other polymers; some of these bags are compostable and will decompose into elements that can foster the growth of plants.

Criticisms of Biodegradable Bags

From a consumer standpoint, biodegradable plastic bags cost more than regular ones, but there are other concerns. It's been pointed out that producing a biodegradable plastic bag uses more energy than producing a regular bag—energy which releases more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Counter-intuitively, biodegradable plastic bags cannot be recycled, either, while regular plastic bags can. Because of this, reusable bags are seen by some ecologists to be a superior alternative.

The climate in which you live can also affect the speed at which these bags degrade. Warmth and a high concentration of microbial life are required to optimize biodegradation rates. If you live in a cold climate, the bags won't break down nearly as quickly.

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