Plastikteilchen und Mikroplastik am Strand
© Friedberg - adobe.stock.com

Microplastic

What do poop bags have to do with microplastics? Which materials are at risk of producing microplastics and why?

Dog waste bags made of "oxo-degradable" plastics

German cities issue around 300,000,000 dog waste bags every year. Over 90 % of the products used consist of conventional plastic (PE) [1]. These bags are therefore non-degradable and can be a major plastic waste problem for decades or even centuries if they get into the environment.

In the course of increased environmental awareness and the resulting demand for biodegradable products, municipalities, companies and consumers are often offered so-called “Oxo dog waste bags” as “biodegradable”.

What are "oxo-degradable" plastics?

Oxo-degradable plastics are conventional plastics, e.g. polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which are equipped with special additives during plastics processing. These additives are intended to promote the disintegration of products made from them into small fragments (fragmentation into visible or invisible pieces of plastic). Some information from the European Parliament:

„In such plastic materials, “oxo-biodegradable” additives, typically metal salts, are incorporated into conventional plastics. As a result of the oxidation of those additives, the plastic materials fragment into small particles, which remain in the environment. It is thus misleading to refer to such plastic materials as “biodegradable”. Fragmentation transforms visible littering of items such as plastic carrier bags into invisible littering by secondary microplastics. This is not a solution to the waste problem, but rather increases pollution of the environment by those plastic materials.“

This has also been confirmed by various scientists in recent years, see for example:

Since oxo bags are made of normal plastic with some additives, they can be offered at prices similar to PE dog waste bags. The prospect of getting (supposedly) biodegradable products at such a cheap price certainly seems tempting – in fact, it is a product that is slightly more expensive than PE and which has significantly poorer environmental properties.

The sale of oxo-degradable plastic products is prohibited throughout the EU since July 3rd, 2021, as can be seen, for example, in a corresponding EU Directive. The material can be recognized by terms such as “oxo”, “epi” or “d2w”.

Mikroplastik das am Strand gefunden und ausgesiebt wurde
© wonderisland - adobe.stock.com

New microplastic trend: polyethylene (PE) + thermoplastic starch (TPS)

In the meantime there is also a new “greenwashing” trend in the area of ​​dog waste bags, in which the suppliers also falsely advertise their products as “biodegradable”. The material is a mixture of conventional polyethylene and thermoplastic starch. TPS is basically degradable – but the mixture with PE does not lead to the PE becoming completely degradable. In European nature there are neither bacteria nor fungi that have the appropriate enzymes to biodegrade PE. Just like in the case of the “Oxo dog waste bag”, the material is defragmented even with starch-filled polymers, but ultimately converted into microplastic.

Against this background, it is all the more important that dog owners find alternatives to the increasing demand in the area of ​​poop bags that are completely biodegradable under European temperature conditions. The “OK compost HOME” certification from TÜV Austria is a recognized seal of quality to guarantee degradability under home compost conditions (tested at an ambient temperature of 20 – 30 °C). With our biodegradable dog waste bags, we offer dog owners an appropriately certified and environmentally conscious alternative.

[1] Extrapolation of results from an own survey of more than 700 German cities (2018)

© Friedberg - adobe.stock.com

Microplastic

What do poop bags have to do with microplastics?
Which materials are at risk of producing microplastics and why?

Dog waste bags made of “oxo-degradable” plastics

German cities issue around 300,000,000 dog waste bags every year. Over 90 % of the products used consist of conventional plastic (PE) [1]. These bags are therefore non-degradable and can be a major plastic waste problem for decades or even centuries if they get into the environment.

In the course of increased environmental awareness and the resulting demand for biodegradable products, municipalities, companies and consumers are often offered so-called “Oxo dog waste bags” as “biodegradable”.

What are “oxo-degradable” plastics?

Oxo-degradable plastics are conventional plastics, e.g. polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which are equipped with special additives during plastics processing. These additives are intended to promote the disintegration of products made from them into small fragments (fragmentation into visible or invisible pieces of plastic). Some information from the European Parliament:

„In such plastic materials, “oxo-biodegradable” additives, typically metal salts, are incorporated into conventional plastics. As a result of the oxidation of those additives, the plastic materials fragment into small particles, which remain in the environment. It is thus misleading to refer to such plastic materials as “biodegradable”. Fragmentation transforms visible littering of items such as plastic carrier bags into invisible littering by secondary microplastics. This is not a solution to the waste problem, but rather increases pollution of the environment by those plastic materials.“

This has also been confirmed by various scientists in the recent past, see for example:

Since oxo bags are made of normal plastic with some additives, they can be offered at prices similar to PE dog waste bags. The prospect of getting (supposedly) biodegradable products at such a cheap price certainly seems tempting – in fact, it is a product that is slightly more expensive than PE and which has significantly poorer environmental properties.

The sale of oxo-degradable plastic products is prohibited throughout the EU since July 3rd, 2021, as can be seen, for example, in a corresponding EU Directive. The material can be recognized by terms such as “oxo”, “epi” or “d2w”.

Mikroplastik das am Strand gefunden und ausgesiebt wurde
© wonderisland - adobe.stock.com

New microplastic trend: polyethylene (PE) + thermoplastic starch (TPS)

In the meantime there is also a new “greenwashing” trend in the area of ​​dog waste bags, in which the suppliers also falsely advertise their products as “biodegradable”. The material is a mixture of conventional polyethylene and thermoplastic starch. TPS is basically degradable – but the mixture with PE does not lead to the PE becoming completely degradable. In European nature there are neither bacteria nor fungi that have the appropriate enzymes to biodegrade PE. Just like in the case of the “Oxo dog waste bag”, the material is defragmented even with starch-filled polymers, but ultimately converted into microplastic.

Against this background, it is all the more important that dog owners find alternatives to the increasing demand in the area of ​​poop bags that are completely biodegradable under European temperature conditions. The “OK compost HOME” certification from TÜV Austria is a recognized seal of quality to guarantee degradability under home compost conditions (tested at an ambient temperature of 20 – 30 °C). With our biodegradable dog waste bags, we offer dog owners an appropriately certified and environmentally conscious alternative.

[1] Extrapolation of results from an own survey of more than 700 German cities (2018)

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