Biodegradable bags don't degrade

How quickly do biodegradable bags break down?
10 May 2019
Presented by Ruby Osborn
Production by Ruby Osborn.


Plastic in the ocean


Our society uses - and then throws away - a vast amount of plastic, which then accumulates in the environment. To combat this, in recent years, new types of plastic bags have become available, labelled as “compostable” or “biodegradable.” Both of these terms indicate the bag can break down and so avoid pollution, although biodegradable bags take longer than compostable bags. There’s also a third type, oxo-biodegradable, which have an additive that should make them decompose a bit faster than standard biodegradable bags. So when you see a plastic bag labelled “biodegradable,” how long do you think it takes to break down? Three months? Six months? Well, new research from the University of Plymouth shows that’s not quite the case. Ruby Osborn spoke to Imogen Napper, lead author of the study, about how she put plastic bags through their paces...


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