(ORDO NEWS) — Although biodegradable plastic looks like a sustainable alternative to conventional plastic, in fact, its impact on the environment can be just as devastating.
In particular, having studied the process of decomposition of “ecoplast” by soil bacteria, scientists found out that a significant amount of carbon dioxide is released, which can enhance the process of global warming.
Plastic pollution of the environment is one of the main environmental problems of our time. In recent years, an increasing number of companies have begun to use biodegradable materials to package their products, yielding to the calls of the greens.
At first glance, this “eco-plastic” is much better than usual: it gradually collapses after being thrown away, so even a package of chips thrown away in the forest should disappear by itself in a few months.
However, cleaning the Earth of the plastic itself is only part of the problem of pollution, because the inhabitants of the planet will have to deal with the consequences of the decomposition of garbage.
Experts in soil ecology and environmental microbiology from the University of Bayreuth (Germany) have for the first time systematically compared the effects of conventional and biodegradable plastics on different types of soil.
The scientists also analyzed the implications for microbial biomass the bacteria and fungi that colonize the ground beneath our feet.
They compared two types of plastic: low-density polyethylene , a common non-biodegradable plastic that has been used in industry for decades, and polybutylene adipate terephthalate (PBAT), a biodegradable plastic used in food packaging and trash bags.
Plastic particles of different sizes were applied to two types of soil, sandy loam and loam , after which the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the soil was measured for four weeks.
Polyethylene did not have a significant effect on the rate of outgassing, in contrast to the “green” PBAT.
Loamy soils emitted less carbon dioxide than sandy loamy soils, in addition, the exact amount depended on the number and size of the plastic particles. But in general, the level of carbon dioxide emissions from soils with PBAT particles exceeded the norm by 13-57 percent.
Also increased the number of microorganisms in the soil that feed on the decomposition products of plastic, which further increased the release of carbon dioxide.
Thus, “ecoplast” does not eliminate the problem of plastic pollution, but only retouches it. Massive release of biodegradable garbage can significantly increase the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
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