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Is biodegradable really better for the environment?

In the past year I have noticed an increase in products that are biodegradable and like me, you may have just assumed that it is so much better for the environment. Take for instance Cutlery, there are now brands making biodegradable forks, knives, and spoons. Unfortunately many people assume that biodegradable is the same as compostable.

Is biodegradable another greenwashing scheme?

If you are unaware of what greenwashing is, it is an organization using supposedly “green” policies or products when their impact is not what it leads the public to believe.

Biodegradable isn’t compostable

Compostable

  •  60-90% of the product breaks down within 180 day period
  • 90% will be 2 mm or less
  • Won’t leave heavy metals (that are toxic to the soil)

Biodegradable

  • Will break down eventually may be 100 days or 100 billion years
  • When broken down can be dangerous to animals, humans, and plant life

Biodegradable Cutlery

Spudware is made from 80% vegetable starch and 20% soy or other vegetable oils. unfortunately the problems that arise are that instead of oil-based product we will use more agricultural land which increases the cost of foods and other agricultural practices. How many pesticides or fertilizers are being used? Is this really more environmental?

Bioplastic

The production of bioplastic relies on oil-derived plastics, and is reliant on petroleum as energy and materials. Biodegradable plastic is made from petroleum byproducts and take centuries, and millions of years to break down.

95% of all disposable cutlery ends up in the landfill

Biodegradable products mainly end up in the landfills. When in the landfills they break down by microorganisms that produce methane. Methane is collected in the first two years but not required in the United States to be collected after. These biodegradable products take longer to break down and then the methane is released into the atmosphere, which accelerates climate change.

Unaware consumers

Again with many things environmental, the public is not aware of the extent of greenwashing that occurs with the majority of the products deemed ‘green.’ Unless the public is aware of the greenwashing of things like ‘biodegradable’ they will continue thinking that they are doing the better thing. My friend said “I thought I was doing a good thing that was beneficial to the environment, and now I find out it’s just another way for companies to benefit from me being uninformed.” She, like the general public believe what the packaging tells them.

Have you fallen for greenwashing before? 

If you want to find out if a product is greenwashed follow this link:

http://www.greenwashingindex.com/

“In the absence of facts, people believe what they want to believe”

-Jeff Butler

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