SCIENCE ADVICE FOR POLICY
BY EUROPEAN ACADEMIES

Discover the built2biodegrade.eu website!

As a follow-up to our report on biodegradability of plastics in the open environment published in December 2020, we are launching the built2biodegrade.eu! This is a website dedicated to a first-of-its-kind, public experiment to discover how long biodegradable plastics take to break down in seawater.

Our report stresses that calling something ‘biodegradable’ doesn’t mean that it will biodegrade in any conditions. Whether plastic will biodegrade depends on the material it is made of, but also on the conditions in the environment where it ends up, the presence of the specific microorganisms, and on the temperature.

In the experiment, samples of several plastics advertised as “biodegradable” are immersed in a tank, where conditions are similar to those in the Bergen fjord of Norway – from water temperature to the right kinds of fish. The purpose is to discover how long the biodegradation process takes, which microbes are involved, and whether the location of the samples makes any difference.

You can now visit www.built2biodegrade.eu, a great resource for non-experts to learn more about the experiment and observe the biodegradation process yourself, thanks to a 24/7 webcam currently recording at Bergen Aquarium.

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