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Student’s Name: Amanda Libbie Kelebit

Matrix Number: 2009060149

Major Course: Bsc. Mechanical Engineering

Subject’s Code: BIO 121

School’s Name: Technology Park Malaysia College

Lecturer’s Name: Miss Kok Yih Yih

Date of Submission: 6th August 2009

Biodegradable Plastics

A.L. Kelebit


Plastics designed to degrade comparatively quickly include oxo-degradable and UV

degradable polymers that break down when exposed to oxygen or light respectively. .

To qualify as bio-degradable, however, this degradation has to happen, at least in part, due to

cell mediated phenomena or microorganisms. As a result the polymer is eventually reduced to

water, carbon dioxide, biomass and possibly methane.

To be considered as compostable it must meet some strict criteria as defined in national and

international standards:

• Biodegrade: break down into carbon dioxide, water and bio mass.

• Disintegrate; after three months composting and subsequent sifting through a 2 mm sieve

no more than 10% residue may remain.

• Eco toxicity: the bio-degradation does not produce any toxic material and the compost

can sustain plant growth.


What is a biodegradable plastic?

Firstly, it is an environmental-friendly plastic. It does not cause any harm or destruction to

our environment. Secondly, it can be decompose, unlike typical and standard plastics. For

example, they can easily decompose in natural environments such as composting and landfill

environments. Thirdly, it would not harm human’s health when these plastic decompose into

the soil.

What does science say about biodegradable plastic?

A.L. Kelebit

Biodegradable plastic is a plastic that decompose in natural environment; aerobic

(composting) and anaerobic (landfill) environment. It is a durable and degradable plastic.

Biodegradable plastics typically are produced in two forms: injection molded (solid, 3D

shapes), typically in the form of disposable food service items, and films, typically sold as

collection bags for leaves and grass trimmings, and agricultural mulch.

In the United States, ASTM International is the authoritative body for defining biodegradable

standards. The current ASTM standards are defined as standard specifications and standard

test methods. Standard specifications create a pass or fail scenario whereas standard test

methods identify the specific testing parameters for facilitating specific biodegradable tests

on plastics.

What are the applications and uses of biodegradable plastics?

Biodegradable plastics are a new generation of polymersemerging in the market.

Biodegradable plastics have an expanding range of potential applications, and are driven by

the growing use of plastics in packaging and the perception that biodegradable plastics are

'environmentally friendly', their use is predicted to increase. However, issues are also

emerging regarding the use of biodegradable plastics and their potential impacts on the

environment and effects on established recycling systems and technologies.

Why does biodegradable plastic differ from other plastic?

There are a lot of different plastics with different properties, but the main reason plastics are

non-biodegradable is because the chains of molecules called polymers that make up the

plastic are too long and the bonds between the molecules are very strong to be broken down.

So they will eventually be broken down, but it takes a lot longer than biodegradable


A.L. Kelebit

What are the advantages of using biodegradable plastics?

1. Bioplastics Are Renewable

Bioplastics are made from biomass, and are green biodegradable plastics which are made

from renewable sources. Biomass is organic matter that breaks down, and there is an

abundant supply of it all around the world. This includes grass, trees, other plants, and all

other organic materials that decompose, including animal meats, fats, and other tissues. There

will always be organic material growing and breaking down, and that makes bioplastics a

product that is renewable.

2. Biodegradable Plastics Break Down Faster

Biodegradable plastics and green biodegradable products break down much faster once they

are discarded, if they are not recycled instead. This means that the plastic is absorbed back

into the earth as the components, so that there are not tons of plastic laying in the landfills,

taking decades or longer to break down. Non biodegradable plastic can also pose a threat to

wildlife and marine life if discarded improperly, and using biodegradable materials instead

can minimize this threat and protect the fish and animals.

3. Biodegradable Plastics Are More Environmentally Friendly

Bioplastics are much friendlier to the environment, in part because there is no destruction to

the earth recovering fossil fuels and in part because there are very few harmful carbon

emissions and other greenhouse gases being released. These plastics break down faster so

they have a much shorter effect on the earth, and they will degrade completely. Normal

plastics are manufactured using oil, and this process is very harmful to the environment by

polluting the air and environment, but this is not the case with green biodegradable plastics.

Using green plastics will minimize the effects that these products have on the earth, and help

eliminate their waste much faster.

4. Bioplastics Can Be Recycled Easier

A.L. Kelebit

Biodegradable plastics are made from biodegradable materials, which will break down faster

than petroleum based plastics that are not biodegradable. This means that these plastics can

be recycled much faster and easier, using a lot less energy in the process. Recycling is the key

to preventing more waste in the future, and bioplastics can be broken down and reused more

effectively and more efficiently than non biodegradable plastics, giving them a definite

advantage in this area.

5. Producing Bioplastics Requires Less Energy

During production bioplastics require less than half of the energy that non biodegradable

plastics require to produce, meaning that twice as much biodegradable plastic can be made

with the same amount of energy. This gives green biodegradable plastic a distinct advantage

over petroleum based plastics, and makes it a much greener and energy conservative choice

when comparing the two.

6. Bioplastics Reduce Foreign Oil Dependence

Using bioplastics will reduce the dependence that the entire country has on foreign countries

and fossil fuels. Much of the oil used to make traditional plastics comes from Middle Eastern

countries, and these countries are not always friendly to Americans.

7. Biodegradable Plastics Are Not Toxic

Bioplastics are very safe, and they contain no toxins at all. With traditional plastics harmful

chemicals and byproducts can be released during the breakdown and decay period, but this is

not the case with plastic that is biodegradable. This all natural plastic breaks down harmlessly

and is absorbed back into the earth. There is no chemical leaching into rain water or the

ground to threaten the health and safety of people or animals nearby.

What are the disadvantages of using biodegradable plastics?

A.L. Kelebit

Under proper conditions biodegradable plastics can degrade to the point where

microorganisms can metabolise them.

Degradation of oil-based biodegradable plastics may release of previously stored carbon as

carbon dioxide. Starch-based bioplastics produced from sustainable farming methods can be

almost carbon neutral but could have a damaging effect on soil, water usage and quality, and

result in higher food prices.

Where can we find these biodegradable plastic in the world?

We can find these biodegradable plastics in any store that subscribe and sell these things. But

usually, if we buy online, it would be cheaper. The famous online store for this would be

Alibaba.com. Most of the biodegradable plastics that sell through internet service would be

from China (mainland) and Hong Kong.

When did these biodegradable plastics start being use?

Although plastics have had a remarkable impact on our culture, it has become increasingly

obvious that there is a price to be paid for their use.

It first arose in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The plastics industry managed to fend off

trouble by launching a massive public-education campaign.

By the late 1960s, plastics were increasingly seen as a symbol of an outdated 1950s consumer

culture. The term "plastic" became an insult, used to describe someone thought of as

soulless. Plastic was almost too good, as it was durable and degraded very slowly. In some

cases, burning it could release toxic fumes. There was also the problem that manufacturing

plastics often created large quantities of nasty chemical pollutants, and depleted the Earth's

bounded supply of fossil fuels.

A.L. Kelebit


We can help by use less plastic and use more biodegradable plastic. As we do so, we can save

environment from being destroyed but unneeded chemical substances. Soon, the use of

biodegradable plastics will be globalised and people should take more attention to it by

support any programme regarding biodegradable plastics.