Biodegradable bags might not biodegrade


Manage episode 233140406 series 96984
By Chris Smith and The Naked Scientists. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.
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. For information regarding your data privacy, visit

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