In an article published on November 24, 2015 the journal Kunststoffe International reports on the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) report “Biodegradable plastics and marine litter: Misconceptions, concerns and impacts on marine environments” stating that biodegradable plastic products will neither significantly decrease the amount of plastics entering the oceans nor the physical and chemical impacts on the marine environment. Plastics that biodegrade under certain conditions in the terrestrial environment do not biodegrade at all in the marine environment, or only much more slowly. Their use is therefore likely to add to the existing littering problems, according to the report. Further, biodegradable plastics need to be separated from non-biodegradable waste streams to ensure recycling. The fate of the fragments from oxo-degradable plastics is unclear and these fragments could add to the amount of microplastics in the oceans. Lastly, some evidence suggests that labeling products as biodegradable can encourage littering.
Kunststoffe International (November 24, 2015). “UN report warns of biodegradable plastics.”
European Bioplastics (December 2015). “UN report on marine litter assessed bioplastics.”