The realities of the environmental impacts of plastics and their alternatives.

?Plastic Good or Bad

Given the widespread use of plastics in industry and everyday human life, the production of petroleum-based plastics has been increasing every year, with around 400 million tons produced in recent years. However, what fate awaits these plastics after the end of their life cycle? The exact translation in English is: “Considering the widespread use of […]

Given the widespread use of plastics in industry and everyday human life, the production of petroleum-based plastics has been increasing every year, with around 400 million tons produced in recent years. However, what fate awaits these plastics after the end of their life cycle? The exact translation in English is: “Considering the widespread use of plastics in industry and daily human life, the production of petroleum-based plastics has been increasing annually and in recent years has reached approximately 400 million tons. But what is the fate of these plastics after the end of their life cycle?”

According to statistics, globally, over 60% of these plastics are either mismanaged in nature and oceans or buried in landfills. Only about 9% of these plastic wastes are recycled, and the rest are incinerated for heat and fuel production. These factors have raised significant concerns for environmental activists and organizations, pushing the global community towards finding a solution to control this issue.

Based on the information provided, Western societies have suggested the use of biodegradable plastics instead of petroleum-based plastics to reduce environmental pollution caused by mismanagement and landfilling of plastic waste. In general, it is better to compare the different effects of using petroleum-based or biodegradable plastics for better decision-making. These effects include environmental impacts, among others.

Water consumption: Biodegradable plastics, derived from raw materials such as corn, require a significant amount of water. Research has shown that the water consumption for biodegradable plastics is significantly higher than that of petroleum-based plastics. For this reason, in countries facing water crises such as Western Asian countries and the Persian Gulf region, the production of biodegradable plastics is not considered logical.

Land: Cultivating raw materials such as corn for the production of bioplastics requires agricultural land. In countries like Western Asian countries such as Iran, where fertile land is scarce and the priority is producing food products for the people, it is not logical to allocate fertile lands to cultivate corn for bioplastic production.

Environmental impacts: According to research conducted, biodegradable plastics have been shown to have worse performance compared to petroleum-based plastics in terms of environmental factors such as climate change (global warming), greenhouse gas emissions, ozone layer depletion, toxicity to humans, toxicity to various ecosystems, acidification, and eutrophication. Additionally, contrary to claims about the biodegradability of bioplastics, observations have revealed that their biodegradation requires specific temperature and atmospheric conditions and they do not easily decompose.

Based on the information provided, currently replacing biodegradable plastics with petroleum-based plastics may not address the concerns raised at the beginning of the discussion in all countries and regions, and may even lead to further problems. Therefore, it is suggested that regions such as Western Asian countries, which are facing water crises and challenges in waste management, should move towards large-scale development and investment to minimize landfill and mismanagement of waste by increasing recycling efforts and also moving towards incineration.