OXO “Bio” Degradable

I received yet another copy of the NZ Herald “Element” magazine, this time wrapped in epi OXO-degradable plastic instead of normal plastic.

I somewhat appreciate the fact that they are trying to get better with their packaging, however: They don’t!

From Wikipedia:

While OXO plastics, especially in the form of plastic bags, are promoted and now widely used as a “environmentally sound” solution of the plastic littering problem, there are several environmental issues related to their use.[2] Metal salts used as the catalyst for OXO degradation carry risks of environmental pollution with heavy metals. A study by the Biodegradable Products Institute found significant amounts of lead and cobalt in their “EcoSafe” OXO bags samples.[3] In case of lead, the amounts found had drastically exceeded the allowed concentrations: “The lead level are 4 times higher than those allowed by ASTM D6400-99 in the US and 12 times higher than the concentrations permitted in Europe (EN 13432) and Japan (GreenPLA)”[3]

Other often discussed issues are the potential toxicity of the OXO plastic breakdown residue, loss of degradable properties in landfills, the ability of plastic fragments to survive long enough to present danger to wildlife and discouragement of planned plastic bag phase-outs. Although OXO plastic are considered recyclable, the additives could produce unpredictable quality of the secondary product, and there are few independent studies which describe their recycling efficiency and properties.[4] It’s also been said that the “biodegradable” public image is discouraging people from recycling, which leads to increased littering and the loss of the stored energetic potential (and therefore the value) of the material, which could be retrieved by recycling and other means of use.[4]

In summary: since we are civilised, we throw plastic warppings and bags into the household rubbish that gets landfilled. So we add potentially harmful degradents into it for no purpose because it does hardly effect the degradability.