Opinion April 24, 2019 | 10:39 am

Biodegradation of plastics: pollution solution

Plastic island, Pacific. Phys.org

By Fernando González Nicolás

The biodegradation of plastics is a practical, economical and reliable solution to reduce its contamination.

In simple terms, biodegradation is achieved through the addition of an additive when plastic is manufactured.

The additive has the characteristic that attracts a micro organism that is found in the environment.

This micro organism feeds on the plastic by digesting it and converting it into biomass and water. When biodegradation starts and ends is predetermined and controlled.

Biodegradation is useful in countries like ours, where the processes of collection, recycling and composting of plastics are incipient, since those plastics that end in sandlots, rivers, gullies and the sea, biodegrade to water and biomass with contact with oxygen and sunlight.

It’s important to differentiate between plastic degradation and bio-degradation.

Degraded plastic crumbles into micro particles, but it is still plastic and pollutes for hundreds of years.

However, when plastic is bio-degraded, in months it becomes water and biomass, being friendly to environment.

In conclusion the total elimination of plastics is almost an impossible task to achieve since plastics are very deeply rooted in humanity today.

However, technologies such as biodegradation are an effective and economic solution to control pollution of plastics.  The technology of biodegradation has been proven and recognized by influential institutions, especially in Great Britain.

At present, biodegradation is present in more than 100 countries around the world.