Developing more and better ways to come up with eco-friendly materials, some companies have begun producing oxo-biodegradable plastics.
They’ve created bags, containers, wrappers and other useful items that make it much easier and better on the environment.
Knowing how to dispose of oxo-biodegradable plastic isn’t difficult, complicated or anything you have to concentrate on.
As a matter of fact, it makes it much easier to decide how you want to dispose of it without any worry on your part. Simply put it into the recycling bin or your weekly garbage pickup.
What Is Plastic Categorized as Oxo-Biodegradable?
Oxo-biodegradable plastic is a single use plastic that makes packaging, storage containers, grocery bags and etc kinder to the environment.
There are many kinds of degradable plastic on the market but plastics that are oxo-biodegradable are in their own category.
It’s a proprietary blend of standard plastic with a pro-degradent additive that makes the material susceptible to oxygen.
Manufacturers add this during the extrusion process, which is the initial melting of materials that comprise plastics.
How the Additive Works
This additive encourages molecular breakdown when exposed to sunlight, heat and air – all the components that make up oxygen.
This makes the plastic digestible to microorganisms that help decompose the plastic.
Ergo, the plastic will degrade faster into useable carbon dioxide, water and biomass the earth can use.
How It Helps Degradation
What’s great about it is that it doesn’t require a biological process or microorganisms to degrade or help speed up the process.
It can break down on its own, all it requires is oxygen.
This means oxo-biodegradable plastics have great advantages over other kinds of plastic.
How to Dispose Oxo-Biodegradable Plastic?
Because of the versatility offered by oxo-biodegradable plastic, you can either recycle or toss it in the regular trash. Of course, treat it as you would any other plastic you plan to recycle.
For instance, rinse out any leftover food or other consumable substances.
But, if you’re out and about, you can walk away guilt-free and just toss it in the garbage.
Don’t Add It to Compost Piles
For the compost savvy, do not add this to your heap.
Although it does break down and creates a better soil quality in landfills, it is not appropriate for gardening purposes.
So, while it may seem like a good idea, leave it out of your composting.
What Gives Oxo-Biodegradable Plastic an Edge over Others?
There are many benefits to oxo-biodegradable plastics that other degradable plastics don’t have.
These come outside of the already wonderful earth-friendly feature.
First, there is no visual or functional difference between oxo-biodegradable plastic and regular plastic. The texture, quality and strength are identical.
Extended Life Span
Oxo-biodegradable plastics will last for two years or more when properly stored indoors.
Most other plastics, even if they are degradable, aren’t recyclable.
You can recycle oxo-biodegradable plastics or put them in the trash to sit in a landfill.
No Harmful Emissions
Plus, while it breaks down and undergoes the process of decomposition, no harmful gasses or emissions enter into the environment.
This makes it safer on the atmosphere while reducing potential damage to humans, plants, animals and others.
What Are the Drawbacks to Oxo-Biodegradable Plastics?
As with anything, there are a few pitfalls to take note of in regards to oxo-biodegradable plastics.
First, the name is a bit misleading since they are neither a biodegradable plastic nor a bioplastic.
They are rather a blended standard plastic that mimics degradation. So, it’s not necessarily an organic process.
While it’s true oxo-biodegradable plastic breaks down quickly, it continually fragments into tiny pieces, or microplastics.
These take quite some time to breakdown at a molecular level.
Compostable and some other biodegradable plastics are better in this regard.
The microplastics left behind by oxo-biodegradable ones will remain indefinitely.
Unknown Breakdown Time
Even though these microplastics will break down eventually, we have no way of knowing how long that will be.
It could be as little as five years or as many as 50 years or more.
This will depend on the type of plastic used to create the blend.
How Long Does It Take for Oxo-Biodegradable Plastic to Breakdown?
The time it takes for oxo-biodegradable plastic to degrade depends on the amount of heat, light, air and microorganisms the material gets exposed to.
With proper use of the plastic, it will last for up to two years or more.
However, once it becomes litter, it can begin breaking down in 12 months or less.
In a Landfill
In a landfill situation, oxo-biodegradable plastics breakdown fast if there’s plenty of oxygen flowing throughout the space.
But, once it does begin its process of degradation, it won’t release methane gases into the atmosphere.
As mentioned above, while the fragments continually breakdown, the type of standard plastic mixed with the proprietary additive leaves an estimated time up to question.
We just don’t know exactly how long it will take to completely degrade.
Oxo-biodegradable plastics are in a class all their own. Not only can you dispose of them in the regular trash but you can also put them in for recycling.
This versatility is what gives oxo-biodegradable plastic an edge over others.
Once it becomes part of the trash, it begins breaking down and becomes more digestible for the microorganisms essential to the decomposition process.