Scientists from Tel Aviv University compared the impact of two types of disposable tableware on the marine environment – the usual plastic and the more expensive bioplastic certified by various international organizations. The results of the study, published in the journal Environmental Pollution, are disappointing – it turns out that “environmentally friendly” dishes have the same effect on marine animals as ordinary plastic. What’s more, scientists have found that bioplastics don’t degrade as quickly in the marine environment as the companies promise.
“In recent decades, so-called ‘bioplastics’ products have appeared on the market,” explains Guillermo Anderson of Tel Aviv University. Bioplastics are made from natural, renewable materials and degrade relatively quickly under certain conditions. Disposable and bioplastic tableware has been approved by many international standards and is marketed to consumers as environmentally friendly. We wanted to test the supposedly environmentally friendly disposable tableware to see if it lives up to expectations.”
Scientists have compared disposable cups made of conventional plastic and bioplastics for their effects on ascidians, a species of marine invertebrate.
According to Professor Noah Shenkar, co-author of the study, at least in the short term, both types of plastic are equally harmful to the environment.
“Yes, bioplastics are made from natural materials, and in this sense they are more useful. But they can contain toxins, just like regular plastic dishes, and the rate of decomposition in water leaves little to be desired. The 180 days promised by the manufacturers is only possible under conditions available only in industrial composting plants, ”the professor concludes.