As a manufacturer of bioplastics, we get a lot of questions about general plastic decomposition and marine debris decomposition rates. The Plastic Garbage Project put together this infographic that shares estimated decomposition rates for various marine debris. It’s important to note that these rates do not indicate complete biodegradation, but rather rates of fragmentation. Instead of actually biodegrading, plastic breaks down into microplastic particles that are smaller than a grain of sand. So it doesn’t actually go away, it just gets smaller, remaining toxic and devastating our marine environments and wildlife.
In contrast, when compostable plastic is industrially composted, it biodegrades completely within 180 days or less, leaving no visible, distinguishable or toxic residue, becoming usable compost. Compostable bioplastics are a great alternative to traditional plastics for single-use disposable items such as cups, straws, take-out containers and packaging. The caveat? We need to strengthen our composting infrastructure and change the way that we dispose of our waste. We also need more companies making the switch to bioplastics and being more considerate of our earth.