UNEP Report - Biodegradable Plastics and Marine Litter (2015)
"The objective of this briefing paper is to provide a concise summary of some of the key issues surrounding the biodegradability of plastics in the oceans, and whether the adoption of biodegradable plastics will reduce the impact of marine plastics overall.
One of the principal properties sought of many plastics is durability. This allows plastics to be used for many applications which formerly relied on stone, metal, concrete or timber. There are significant advantages, for food preservation, medical product efficacy, electrical safety, improved thermal insulation and to lower fuel consumption in aircraft and automotives. Unfortunately, the poor management of post-use plastic means that the durability of plastic becomes a significant problem in mitigating its impact on the environment. Plastics are ubiquitous in the oceans as a result of several decades of poor waste management, influenced by a failure to appreciate the potential value of ‘unwanted’ plastics, the underuse of market-based instruments (MBIs), and a lack of concern for the consequences (GESAMP 2015)."