Plastic Biodegradation2022-06-30T22:44:46-06:00

Plastic Biodegradation

Biodegradation of plastics and polymers in the environment.

What is Biodegradation?

Biodegradation is defined by the EPA as, “A process by which microbial organisms transform or alter (through metabolic or enzymatic action) the structure of chemicals introduced into the environment.”

Organic (carbon-based) material is changed through chemical processes from complex molecules into simpler molecules, eventually returning the molecules into the environment. For example, a banana peel can be reduced from cellulose to water, carbon dioxide gas, and humus in a compost pile.

The biodegradation process breaks down everything from yard waste to crude oil. It is a natural process that keeps our planet clean and healthy. Unfortunately, the rate at which we are producing waste far outpaces the rate of natural biodegradation, leading to an unsustainable state. As landfills fill up at record rates, air, water and soil pollution is increasing.

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Normal Plastic Biodegradation

Plastics is a broad name given to different polymers that high molecular weights. The vast majority of plastics produced today are made from nonrenewable petrochemicals, so named because they are derived from fossil oil, natural gas, and coal. Although these plastics are inexpensive, each is a highly engineered material with precise physical properties. They can be molded into virtually any desired shape through various means.

Common plastics biodegrade very slowly. So slowly that most plastics and polymers are considered non-biodegradable. Plastic degradation rates can vary widely depending on the exact type of plastic. Most plastics biodegrade in roughly 200-1000 years in a landfill or natural environment, Estimates of degradation times for plastic bags range from 100–500 years, while plastic bottles are reported as over 200 and up to 450 years.

Phases of Biodegradation with EcoPure®

The process of biodegradation happens naturally over time. Depending on the material, the timeline to full degradation can vary. With plastics, this process usually takes hundreds to thousands of years to complete, if ever, because of the strong polymers that makes up the chemical structure of plastics.

However, with Bio-Tec Environmental LLC’s organic plastic additive, EcoPure®, the process is significantly accelerated. EcoPure® plastics complete the biodegradation* process at much higher rates, which includes:

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Aerobic and Anaerobic Biodegradation?2023-03-19T05:32:39-06:00

Aerobic biodegradation involves the breakdown of organic matter by microorganisms in the presence of oxygen. Anaerobic biodegradation is the breakdown of organic matter by microorganisms when oxygen is not present.

What are Biodegradable Plastics?2023-03-19T05:32:39-06:00

Biodegradable plastics are defined by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) as “a degradable plastic in which the degradation results from the action of naturally-occurring microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and algae”.

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