CEP's purpose is to provide an environmentally sound, cost effective system of solid waste disposal for the citizens of the three member counties: Carteret, Craven and Pamlico.
Sunday, July 26, 2015
NOAA Do plastics go away when they're in the ocean or Great Lakes?
Do plastics go away when they're in the ocean or Great Lakes?
Plastics will degrade into small pieces until you can’t see them anymore (so small you’d need a microscope or better!). But, do plastics fully go away? Full degradation into carbon dioxide, water, and inorganic molecules is called mineralization (Andrady 2003). Most commonly used plastics do not mineralize (or go away) in the ocean and instead break down into smaller and smaller pieces. We call these pieces “microplastics” if they are less than 5mm long. The rate of degradation depends on chemical composition, molecular weight, additives, environmental conditions, and other factors (Singh and Sharma 2008). Bio-Based Plastics There are some bio-based (e.g., corn, wheat, tapioca, algae) plastics on the market and in development. Bio-based plastics use a renewable carbon source instead of traditional plastics that source carbon from fossil fuels. Bio-based plastics are the same in terms of polymer behavior and do not degrade any faster in the environment. Biodegradable Plastics Biodegradable plastics are designed to break down in a compost pile or landfill where there are high temperatures and suitable microbes to assist degradation. However, these are generally not designed to degrade in the ocean at appreciable rates.