In an article published on May 23, 2018 by science magazine Cosmos, editor Andrew Masterson reported on a new review paper on biodegradability standards for biodegradable plastic bags and films. The study was published on the same day in the peer-reviewed journal Royal Society Open Science and conducted by Jesse P. Harrison and colleagues from the University of Edinburgh, UK, and other European research institutions.

The researchers reviewed international industry standards as well as regional test methods for the evaluation of plastics’ biodegradability in aquatic environments. They found that “current standards and test methods are insufficient in their ability to realistically predict the biodegradability of carrier bags in these environments, due to several shortcomings in experimental procedures and a paucity of information in the scientific literature.” They further highlighted that “existing biodegradability standards and test methods for aquatic environments do not involve toxicity testing or account for the potentially adverse ecological impacts of carrier bags, plastic additives, polymer degradation products or small (microscopic) plastic particles that can arise via fragmentation.”

Read more

Andrew Masterson (May 23, 2018). “Biodegradable plastic bags may be major pollutants.Cosmos

Charlie Dreaver (May 23, 2018). “Full impact of biodegradable bags not known – UK study.Radio New Zealand


Harrison, J.P., et al. (2018). “Biodegradability standards for carrier bags and plastic films in aquatic environments: a critical review.Royal Society Open Science (published online May 23, 2018).