Can Plastic Dissolve In Water: A detailed overview
Plastic bags have been in use since 1965. A team of engineers and designers introduced plastic in Sweden with the aim of convenient packaging.
And today, more than 5 trillion plastic bags are used every single year. They are said to be increasing in number with each passing day, and something has to be done to stop this as this plastic is non-biodegradable.
Dissolvable plastics have been in use for a few years now. These plastics are made up of chemicals and compounds that can easily break down with time. These plastics can be easily used as well as disposed of effortlessly.
These plastics are usually used for lighter packaging, such as the film around the magazine covers, the new textbooks, and the compost bags. These are all a few examples of plastic that can dissolve in water.
In this article, we will discuss how and why such plastic dissolves in water and what the other alternatives of non-biodegradable plastics are.
How Long Does Everyday Plastic Last in The Sea Water?
You can throw a plastic bottle in seconds. But did you know that it lasts in the ocean for over 450 years? Regular plastic can dissolve in water naturally, but it takes 450 years to break down plastic in the ocean.
A study by US NOAA and Woods hole grant showed the time taken by man-made debris to dissolve in water/sea. Fishing lines take about 600 years to dissolve, whereas diapers take 450 years to dissolve (same as plastic bottles).
And the plastic bags that you carry around in the supermarket takes about 20 years to biodegrade in the ocean. On the other hand, coffee cups take 50 years to biodegrade.
These plastics further break down into microplastics and can be consumed by marine life as well as humans. Governments are striving to explain to citizens the hazards caused by the regular plastic on marine life and the environment.
But, we as individuals have to move towards biodegradable plastic usage and cut down this vicious cycle today!
Can Biodegradable Plastic Dissolve in Water?
Biodegradable plastics are made of a mix of dissolvable chemicals and materials. The biggest difference between biodegradable and non-biodegradable plastic is that they are formed from the raw materials that help them to break down.
The raw materials are corn, starch, banana peel, and other kinds of fruit peels. Another fact explored was that biodegradable plastic is made from a chemical called modified Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA).
The PVA helps break the plastic with passing the time. PVA is derived from natural gases and calcium carbide. Plastic made using PVA easily dissolves in water and is safe for both animals and plant life. It reduces a significant amount of ocean and sea pollution due to regular plastic.
Any and every form of dissolvable plastic can be dissolved in water. With the help of advanced technology, a wide array of dissolvable plastics have been manufactured and gained popularity recently.
Effects of Regular Plastic on the Environment
The biggest disadvantage of plastic is that it takes years to decompose and dissolve. Also, there is a release of toxic substances in the soil. When they are burned, they release toxic components into the air and cause air pollution.
- The use of plastic bags also leads to diseases. Hence, humans need to avoid plastic usage.
- When dumped into the landfills, plastic bags take up thousands of hectares of land and emit gases like methane and carbon dioxide while burning.
- Plastic waste, as stated earlier, poses a danger to the environment, humans, and animals.
- If the plastic disposal is not done in the right way, they can block the drainage, sea, and oceans.
- Animals usually mistake plastic bags for food and end up consuming them. And this blocks their digestive system. They get entangled in plastic bags and get infections; their reproductive success might get reduced. It may also lead to the starvation of animals.
- Birds like swans entangle in the plastic and drown deep into the water. Even endangered tortoises have suffocated due to the swallowing of plastic bags.
Hence, it is proved that plastic in the ocean and on land has resulted in significant growth of global pollution. It is a contamination source that is released or absorbed from the environment.
The plastic bag compounds have been the reason for more than 76% of toxicity. This waste has a lot of effects on the oceans and sea animals as well. Overall, there are just disadvantages of using plastic and not even a single reason why you should be using non-biodegradable plastic.
Are There Alternatives to Plastic?
There are numerous alternatives to plastic that are not at all harmful to the environment. The component named extruded cellulose is commonly used in the 21st century to pack materials and fragile objects.
There is a specific chemical called graft copolymer being used as well. This copolymer is used to bring together laminated wood and dissolvable plastic to join them together for use.
The other alternative materials to plastic are as follows:
- Stainless steel
- Reusable glass or spoons
- Paper lanterns
- Reusable silicon cotton swabs
- Organic wool
- Porcelain mugs
- Bamboo pulp bags
- Glass or porcelain plates
There are many items that can be made from materials like glass, wood, bamboo, wool, cotton, etc.
Can We Recycle Plastic?
We can recycle plastic but only to a limited extent. Usually, when you tilt a plastic bottle, you will notice a triangle with a number. This number is generally between 1 and 7. These numbers tell you the material/ chemical/ compound that the plastic bottle is made up of.
The main issue is that every plastic is made from a wide range of different numbers. These plastics are a batch of household waste. The other parts of the bottle may be made from various plastic materials altogether.
Another example is a piece of cloth manufactured with a mix of various polymers and fiber. And each polymer might have its unique properties to help it function well. And hence, it gets complicated to separate these plastics. There might be a few plastics that don’t even have a number to help recycle them.
Also, another problem is that you need to heat the plastics very carefully during the recycling process to stop the plastic from releasing harmful carbon particles. The particles can contaminate the environment.
We all must start the use of biodegradable plastics to avoid the use of plastic. There are many eco-friendly alternatives available such as natural fibers and papers. There have to be strong regulations introduced to eradicate the use of plastic.
There is an essential requirement to stop the use of plastic to save the planet. This can be done by changing our daily habits and avoiding plastic when there are other eco-friendly alternatives.
It is great to see that you have taken the initiative to learn more about dissolvable plastic. Even if you are willing to use plastic products, go for dissolvable plastic as they are easily disposable.
Educating and raising awareness about poor disposal is mandatory. More people need to be educated about biodegradable plastic.
There needs to be a lot of measures taken to limit the use of plastic bags. Do take a step ahead and educate others about the use of biodegradable plastic.