Every Litter Bit Hurts
Alyssia Mattman
Sir Winston Churchill Secondary
Floor Location : M 072 V

Litter is a paramount environmental issue. Plastic littering, specifically, creates problems for the marine environment. 1.5% to 4.5% of the world’s total plastic production ends up in the ocean, where it can cause entanglement, suffocation and debilitation of marine animals. Were these plastics replaced by non-toxic, bio-degradable alternatives, these problems would largely subside over a period of a few years. Plastics released into the environment would degrade before becoming a hazard to marine life. The aim of this study was to identify the compostable plastic sub-category with supreme capabilities for rapid decomposition. In turn, the study intended to determine which sub-category of compostable plastics is most likely to facilitate a expeditious turnaround in trends of marine plastic compilation if universalized. The decomposition rate of oxo-biodegradable plastic was compared with the decomposition rate of bioplastic. It was hypothesized that when exposed to the natural environment for 37 days, oxo-biodegradable plastic samples would degrade at a higher rate than bioplastic samples. Experimentally, the hypothesis was disproven. Statistically significant results showed that on average, while oxo-biodegradable plastic underwent minute decomposition throughout its period of exposure, bioplastic underwent substantial decomposition. While there exist uncertainties about the validity of the findings as a result of irregular weather conditions and other variables, overwhelming evidence indicates that the findings of this study are valid.