Ken Ellingson asked:
Why are plastics not biodegradable? Why won’t they breakdown when we chuck them in the ground?
We put this to John Williams, Polymers and Materials Manager, at the National Non-Food Crops Centre:
John - Well, I mean, traditionally, if you look at the materials we’ve produced from petrochemicals then the majority of plastics need to actually be durable. That’s what they’ve been developed for - maximum functionality. And there are one or two pressure of petro-derived plastics that are biodegradable very used in speciality sort of type situations like medical applications and so on. What’s happened recently, of course, is that the drive toward some aspect of biodegradabilities as a function is quite useful if you look into co-disposal of things which are also biodegradable like food waste, for example. So, the answer is you actually you – the important thing is you pick the material for its functionality in terms of what its use is going to be rather what its disposal route is going to be. But now, at the same time you say, actually if we did say, develop a biodegradable version of that, is that useful way to go or not?
Ellingson, Kenneth L asked the Naked Scientists: Chris Why are most plastics not biodegradable? What makes some greener plastics biodegradable? Knute Ellingson, Chicago What do you think? Ellingson, Kenneth L , Thu, 16th Oct 2008
Thats a great question. i dont know how to answer it but i have had a similar question roaming my brain. Ok so , everything we make has had to start out from natural resources right? So shouldnt plastic or foam and such be able to go through some sort of cycle back through the earth if the components of the plastic or object came from the earth at some point. chrissylynn, Wed, 22nd Oct 2008
For most applications, it would be very inconvenient for them to biodegrade.
I object and move to strike as non-responsive. btchoutex, Mon, 20th Oct 2014