Is Oxo Biodegradable Recyclable?

  • By: greenorb
  • Date: September 21, 2021
  • Time to read: 6 min.

Like all plastics, the base material for oxo-biodegradable plastic is petroleum. 

So, what’s the difference between oxo-biodegradable plastic and other plastic? I discovered oxo-biodegradable hasmetal salts added to it. 

The additive helps speed up the breakdown of plastic into smaller pieces. 

The idea is the smaller pieces are more easily decomposed by microorganisms.

We know that plastic pollution is an environmental disaster. 

The single-use plastics we use litter our streets, rivers, and oceans. 

Scientists are developing different types of biodegradable plastics. One solution I found is oxo-biodegradable plastic. 

But I wonder –  is oxo-biodegradable recyclable?

What is Recycling?

The process of turning trashed materials into new items is recycling. Recyclable items include:

  •             Steel cans
  •             Paper products – newspaper, cereal boxes, paper towels
  •             Plastic bottles
  •             Glass bottles
  •             Aluminum drink containers

Recycling has many benefits that help the environment and the economy. Recycling –

  •             Prevents pollution
  •             Reduces raw material extraction
  •             Reduces the amount of waste in landfills
  •             Creates jobs in the recycling industry
  •             Supports the domestic manufacturing industry

Is Oxo Biodegradable Recyclable?

Manufacturers of oxo-biodegradable plastic, like Willow Ridge Plastics, claim their products are recyclable. 

Willow Ridge Plastics proclaim their products allow consumers to support recycling. 

While at the same time supporting oxo-biodegradable products.

Opponents of oxo-biodegradable plastic quote studies that show oxo-biodegradable plastics are not recyclable

At least they are not recyclable in the current plastic bag recycling system. 

This is because they need extra stabilizers to process them in industrial recycling.

The need to add extra stabilizers makes oxo-biodegradable considered non-recyclable. 

This is one reason I prefer compostable plastic over oxo-biodegradable plastic.

What Does Biodegradable Mean?

Biodegradable means a material can break down without causing harm to the environment. 

It means limited amounts of harmful chemicals that enter the soil, air, and water. 

Bacteria, fungi, and environmental conditions cause the decomposition of biodegradable materials. 

Examples of biodegradable materials are –

  •             Paper waste
  •             Food waste
  •             Manure
  •             Sewage

 Is Oxo Biodegradable Better Than Plastic?

I think oxo-biodegradable is better than polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP). 

Sure oxo-biodegradable plastic has its drawbacks but, in the end, it is better than PE or PP. It takes about five years for oxo-biodegradable plastic to decompose. 

Compared to plastic bags that take one thousand years to decompose.

What is the Difference Between Biodegradable and Oxo Biodegradable?

Biodegradable means it can break down by biological means. 

Bacteria and fungus help break down biodegradable materials. 

Oxo-biodegradable plastics break down in the presence of ultraviolet light and oxygen.

Decomposes biodegradable –

  • Fungus
  • Bacteria
  • Water

Decomposes oxo-biodegradable –

  • Oxygen
  • Sunlight (UV light)

What is Better Biodegradable or Compostable?

Compostable materials are biodegradable. 

Yet not all biodegradable materials are compostable. 

For a material to be compostable, it must break down into soil conditioning materials. 

Biodegradable materials break down in soil and water, but they do not provide compost.

I find compostable plastics are better than biodegradable because they provide nutrients to the soil. 

Plastics are compostable if they decompose at a similar rate as other materials. 

And the material cannot leave any residue in the soil that will interfere with the growth of plants.

What is Oxo Biodegradable Packaging?

Metal salt-infused petroleum-based plastic is oxo-biodegradable plastic. 

This material is in a variety of packaging items. Oxo-biodegradable plastic manufactures claim it is reusable, biodegradable, and compostable.

  •             Drink containers
  •             Disposable cups
  •             Disposable cutlery
  •             Shopping bags
  •             Plastic packing film
  •             Disposable plates

Does Oxo Biodegradable Plastic Break Down in Landfill?

It depends on where the oxo-biodegradable plastic is in the landfill. 

Oxo-biodegradable plastic needs oxygen and UV light to degrade. 

So, the oxo-biodegradable plastic needs to be on or near the surface of the landfill pile to break down. 

If the oxo-biodegradable plastic becomes buried, it will be unable to break down. 

This is because of the lack of UV light and oxygen.

The oxo-biodegradable plastics in the upper layers break down into smaller fragments. 

It does this sooner than regular polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) plastics. The smaller fragments take up less space and settle to the bottom of the pile.

Is Oxo Biodegradable Good for the Environment?

There are advantages to using oxo-biodegradable plastics over polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP). 

For instance, oxo-biodegradable plastic is reusable. And when it has reached the end of its life cycle, it breaks down faster than regular plastics.

Is Oxo Biodegradable Bad?

Several organizations do not find benefits to oxo-biodegradable plastic. 

The major downfalls are oxo-biodegradable plastic that is non-compostable.  

And oxo-biodegradable plastic breaks down to microplastics. 

Microplastics are small fragments of plastic found in soils and foods.

Research found no evidence that oxo-biodegradable plastic degrades at a faster rate than PE plastic. 

Therefore, they concluded that oxo-biodegradable plastic has no advantage in reducing litter. 

This leads me to the conclusion that oxo-biodegradable plastic is bad for the environment.

Furthermore, researchers note that it is deceptive to claim oxo-biodegradable plastic is biodegradable. 

They cite that biodegradable items need to decompose within a year. 

And oxo-biodegradable plastic takes longer than a year to degrade.

What is the Controversy Behind Banning Oxo Biodegradable?

Many European Union Member States are moving to ban oxo-biodegradable plastic

One of their issues with oxo-biodegradable plastic is it breaks down into microplastics. 

These microplastics find their way into waterways and the soil

Researchers are beginning to find microplastics in our soils, foods, waters, and fish.

  • Breaks down into microplastic
  • Microplastic end-up in the environment
  • Microplastic are found in fish, shellfish, and fruits

Another concern of theirs is that oxo-biodegradable plastics are not recycled with other plastics. 

Oxo-biodegradable plastic is not identifiable from other plastics. 

This makes it difficult for consumers. 

People sometimes place them in the recycling bin by mistake. This causes problems for the recycling industry.

What are the Problems with Biodegradable Plastics

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