What is the main drawback of photodegradable plastic?What is one potential benefit?

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bandmanjoe | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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With photodegradable plastic, you have a form of plastic that will become biodegradable when light contacts it.  The light causes an electron in the chemical structure of the plastic to transfer, or shift, thus causing the molecules to come apart, which is what biodegradability is all about.  The main problem with this is, even with the enhanced version of plastic, it takes anywhere from two months to two years for this degradability to occur.  Most plastics, when taken to landfills, are rapidly covered with other trash, or soil, and never see the "light of day" again.  Without light, photodegradability does not occur, and we are back to square one, with a nondegradable form of plastic that will pollute our environment for years to come.  Chemists should analyze this problem a little more thoroughly, and come up with a form of plastic that is degradable, say, without the presence of light.  That would be a more fitting descriptive scenario than what we currently have.

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