Everything You Need To Know About Australia’s Upcoming Ban Of ‘Biodegradable’ Plastic

By Jessica Best
19th Mar 2021

girl in blouse posing on the strett

In case you missed it, the Australian Government has just kicked off its first ever National Plastics Plan.

It’s basically a five-part plan which outlines Australia’s approach to increasing plastic recycling, find alternatives to unnecessary plastics and reduce the impact of plastic on the environment. Since Australia uses around 70 billion pieces of soft “scrunchable” plastics (including food wrappers) and around 130,000 tones of plastic leak into various oceans and waterways each year, let’s just say it’s about time we had a plan of attack to help our environment.

One part of this National Plastic Plan is garnering a lot of attention though.

It’s the section all about prevention that will see the phasing out of particularly problematic plastic materials, like biodegradable plastics, by July 2022.

While most of us have probably been opting for biodegradable products for a while now, these types of products or packaging actually have a pretty problematic rep. Greenpeace states that biodegradable plastics “would not help to solve the plastic pollution crisis” and that we shouldn’t “be too optimistic for the development of biodegradable plastics”.

So what’s up with biodegradable plastics, you might ask? Aren’t they made up of natural byproducts and decompose easily, meaning less plastic pollution in the world? Well, you would think, however, the cost of biodegradable plastics manufacturing is actually more than double compared to that of normal plastic, according to Greenpeace, and roughly one-third of biodegradable plastics are made from petrochemicals (obtained from petroleum, which is a huge no-no).

Greenpeace also outlines that to meet the huge demand for biodegradable plastics, different types of chemicals often get intertwined when they’re made, meaning they can actually be made up of chemical additives and there are huge questions (which are still unanswered) around whether these additives have negative impacts on our health and the environment.

Along with this, the actual biodegradation process of “biodegradable” plastics has never been straightforward. There’s no confirmed amount of time that we know of in which biodegradable breaks down.

For more information on Australia’s National Plastics Plan, head here.

Now check out the top Instagram accounts you need to follow for all the sustainable-living inspo right here.

Image credit: Lawrson Pinson

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