MSU study shows biodegrading plastic additives are ineffective

Earth Day is just around the corner and some researchers have landfills, recycling and sustainability on their mind.

Researchers at Michigan State University recently published a study on biodegradable plastics. They found some plastics marketed as biodegradable and more sustainable don’t work.

Susan Selke is the Interim Director at the School of Packaging at MSU.

“What we found was that under the conditions that we tested them and for the additives we tested, we didn’t see any difference of any significance between the plastics with the additives and the plastics without the additives,” Selke said.

She said they tested the plastics in environments like compost, soil and a landfill-like environment. They tested two additives from three different companies.

“In essence, a landfill really is not designed to promote biodegradation. So the idea that you would do something to try to make materials biodegrade faster in a landfill usually doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Selke said.

She said it makes more sense to invest in recycling infrastructure and push recycling behaviors, rather than biodegradable landfill products.

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Published MSU study http://pubs.acs.org/doi/ipdf/10.1021/es504258u