Why are biodegradable plastic bags bad?


Plastic bags are notorious for their harmful impact on the environment. They are non-biodegradable, meaning they do not break down naturally and can take up to a thousand years to decompose. In recent years, there has been a growing trend towards using biodegradable plastic bags as a more environmentally-friendly alternative. However, despite their eco-friendly label, biodegradable plastic bags are not without their drawbacks. In this article, we will explore why biodegradable plastic bags are bad for the environment.

To understand the drawbacks of biodegradable plastic bags, we need to first understand what makes them different from regular plastic bags. Biodegradable plastic bags are made from materials that are designed to break down in the presence of certain environmental conditions, such as sunlight or moisture. While this may sound like a positive feature, it can actually create more harm than good.

One of the main issues with biodegradable plastic bags is that they do not easily break down in landfill conditions. Landfills are designed to minimize the decomposition process, which means that biodegradable plastic bags may take just as long to degrade as regular plastic bags if they end up in a landfill. This is because landfills are often anaerobic (oxygen-absent) environments, and the lack of oxygen slows down the degradation process of biodegradable materials.

Furthermore, even if biodegradable plastic bags do end up in environments where they can break down effectively, such as composting facilities, they still pose environmental risks. During the decomposition process, biodegradable plastic bags release methane gas, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. While regular plastic bags also release greenhouse gases when they break down, the process is slower and less significant compared to biodegradable plastic bags. This means that biodegradable plastic bags may have a higher carbon footprint than regular plastic bags.

Another concern with biodegradable plastic bags is the misconception surrounding their use. Many people believe that these bags can be disposed of without any negative consequences, leading to increased littering and improper disposal practices. When biodegradable plastic bags end up in the natural environment, they can still cause harm to wildlife and ecosystems. Animals may mistake them for food and ingest them, leading to intestinal blockage or suffocation. Moreover, the production of biodegradable plastic bags still requires the extraction of natural resources and energy, contributing to environmental degradation and pollution.

Furthermore, the term "biodegradable" is often used loosely and lacks proper regulation. Some manufacturers claim that their plastic bags are biodegradable when, in reality, they break down into microplastics, which are just as harmful, if not more, to the environment. These microplastics can be ingested by marine life and eventually make their way into the human food chain, posing risks to both wildlife and human health.

Instead of relying on biodegradable plastic bags as a solution to the plastic problem, it is crucial to focus on reducing overall plastic consumption and promoting more sustainable alternatives. This can be achieved through the use of reusable bags made from durable materials such as cotton or jute, or by encouraging the use of compostable bags that are certified to break down properly in the appropriate conditions.

In conclusion, biodegradable plastic bags may seem like a better option compared to regular plastic bags, but they come with their own set of disadvantages. They do not easily decompose in landfill conditions, release greenhouse gases during decomposition, and contribute to littering and improper disposal practices. The term "biodegradable" is often misleading, and their production still contributes to environmental degradation. It is essential to prioritize the reduction of plastic consumption and explore more sustainable alternatives rather than relying solely on biodegradable plastic bags.