• Divyesh Dadhaniya

Changeover: Compostable to Biodegradable (Good or Bad?)

The Indian government officially allowed to manufacture and sale of biodegradable products as per IS 17899. Until now, only compostable plastic products were allowed in options to single-use plastic with certain rules. Now CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board) has released Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for issuing certificate to manufacturers/sellers of biodegradable plastic carry bags and commodities.

“As per the definition of biodegradable plastic given in Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016, duly amended, the plastic material should not leave behind any micro plastics, or visible, distinguishable, or toxic residue, which has adverse environment impacts. There are no validated test methods available for testing of microplastic, the same will be introduced in the standard once available. Till the validated test methods are available, the 90 percent biodegradation shall be considered as a safe threshold to rule out the presence of microplastic.” given in tentative Indian Standard IS 17899 T:2022 as notified by BIS (Bureau of Indian Standard).

Some additives are available in the market to make any plastic (PP & PE) biodegradable. I call it a magic additive. This magic additive makes any plastic biodegradable when it is mixed by 1-2% (with PP or PE). After the use of the biodegradable products containing magic additives, the degradation of plastics starts after pre-treatment (UV light or heat treatment); the first phase is disintegration by oxidation and the second phase is degradation; after the complete degradation time of up to 2 years, 90% degradation should be done and remaining 10% contains low molecular weight polymer in the form of wax or powder (as per magic additive technology). The remaining 10% can’t be checked for microplastics, as a microplastic testing facility is not available.

Moreover, it is very easy to use and cost-effective compared to compostable plastic and other sustainable alternatives. It is already banned by many governments all over the world due to the threat of microplastic generation. Many court cases have been filed against magic additive manufacturers. Europe and USA also have not accepted it to be used in the market. As we all know, how harmful is the microplastics? Once, it will be channelled into the food chain and waterways, we can never stop it from entering the human body. Even, some studies have shown the presence of microplastics in the human body.

It should be authenticated after rigorous testing from various agencies to certify. We have already made more than enough destruction to the environment. We are witnessing many kinds of disasters and the strange effects of climate change. Now we can not take any chance further, only authenticated and genuine products should be allowed to use.