Increased adoption of plastics labelled "biodegradable" will not significantly decrease the amount of plastic waste entering the world's oceans, according to a UN report. What is more, these plastics pose a chemical and physical threat for the marine environment. The findings were released on 17 November by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The report found a major problem to be "that complete biodegradation of plastics occurs in conditions that are rarely, if ever, met in marine environments, with some polymers requiring industrial composters and prolonged temperatures of above 50°C to disintegrate."
UNEP also warned that labelling products as "biodegradable" may be seen as a "technological solution" to the problem, thus providing little incentive to changing behaviour and perhaps even increasing the public's inclination to litter.