Virgin plastic makes up a large proportion of the total plastic used around the world. But is virgin plastic biodegradable and is it more sustainable than recycled plastic?
What is Virgin Plastic?
Virgin plastic is any plastic resin newly produced from petrochemicals such as natural gas or crude oil.
The term virgin refers to the fact it has never been used previously and is therefore not recycled plastic.
Many industries such as the medical, healthcare and food packaging industries rely heavily on the use of disposable virgin plastics. Because of this, virgin plastic production will never be phased out or replaced until a better alternative is invented.
Is Virgin Plastic Biodegradable?
Virgin plastic is not biodegradable.
This is because virgin plastic is no different to any other type of plastic we use.
Rather than attempting to compost it, virgin plastic should be recycled or reused where possible. Where not possible (straws, disposable cups etc), simply throw used virgin plastic into the trash.
Is Virgin Plastic Better than Recycled Plastic?
No, recycled plastic is always the better option for the environment.
Post-consumer and post-industrial plastic can be reprocessed and used to make ‘new’ plastic with less petrochemicals. Recycling plastic also means less is going to landfill. The only downside to recycling plastic is cost as one ton of plastic bags costs around $4000 to recycle.
Is Virgin Plastic Eco Friendly?
Virgin plastic cannot be considered to be sustainable or environmentally friendly.
The non-renewable natural resources used to produce plastic are in short supply and large amounts of energy are consumed to refine it. The pollution emitted into the environment also needs to be considered when evaluating plastic usage. Finally, most plastic ends up in landfill or discarded in our natural environment.
A global analysis of all plastic ever made suggests that 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic have been produced so far and 6.3 billion metric tons have become plastic waste. In contrast, only 9% has been recycled. The majority of this plastic (79%) is piling up in landfills or sitting within in our environment as discarded junk. Unfortunately, much of this plastic waste will eventually find its way into our oceans.
Virgin plastic is not biodegradable and cannot be considered to be sustainable or environmentally friendly.
Recycled plastic should always be used if possible until a suitable alternative to plastic is developed.