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Environmental chemistry

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Choose one article from the following websites, and summarize the topic/issue


Environmental chemistry


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The article titled, “Biodegradability of Plastics: Challenges and Misconceptions” was written and published by Stephan Kubowicz and Andy Booth in 2017. The authors provide a compelling argument on the challenges and misconceptions concerning the biodegradability of plastics.  Globally, plastics are among the most utilized materials and, in greater lengths, they are made to be durable. According to Kubowicz and Booth (2017), common plastics such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polystyrene (PS), polypropylene (PP), and polyethylene (PE) do not degrade quickly as they are made of a combination of stabilizers. Plastics include specific properties such as chemicals; therefore, it potentially presents challenges when released to the environment. 

Over the past decades, industries have made adequate efforts towards the development and industrialization of ‘biodegradable’ plastics such as the oxo-degradable plastics that have minor adverse effects on the environment. Oxo-degradable plastics are just like the conventional ones, but the only difference is that they contain added additives that quicken the process of oxidation. However, according to Kubowicz and Booth (2017), the only challenge associated with the oxo-degradable plastics is the rapid fragmentation when exposed to both oxygen and sunlight. The accelerated fragmentation brings about vast quantities of harmful microplastics. The microplastics obtained from oxo-degradable plastics fail to fragment quickly as such they are detrimental to the environment.

The modern-day society is faced with the challenge of lacking plastic materials that decompose wholly and rapidly when exposed to sunlight and oxygen. Based on common environmental matrices there are internationally recognized standard methods that aid in the manufacture of biodegradable plastics. Besides, optimized composting conditions are used in the biodegradation of plastics through the use of standard specifications and test methods (Kubowicz & Booth, 2017). The industrial compositing facilities can create compostable plastics that can mineralize within a reasonable schedule under controlled environmental conditions. According to Kubowicz and Booth (2017), industrial composters that have closed and controlled systems hasten the process of fragmentation hence reducing the rate at which the environment is exposed to microplastics.

Industrial companies have occasionally used the term ‘biodegradable’ to mislead to the consumers. Biodegradability of plastics materials was tested in closed and controlled systems, and for that reason, those conditions are not a clear representation of the generic nature of the used materials. Manufacturers market plastics as ‘biodegradables' to...


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