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There are 2 groups of plastic bags that are recognized as environmentally friendly: biodegradable bags and bio-based plastic bags, also known as bio-plastic bags.
Biodegradable plastic bags
Biodegradable plastics are also made from traditional petrochemicals, but they are designed to break down faster. They contain additives that accelerate decomposition when exposed to oxygen, light or moisture. This form of decomposition is known as “oxo-biodegradable” or “oxo-bio” in short.
Commonly used biodegradable additives such as D2W, EPI, P-life, Reverte will be mixed with the main material such as HDPE or LDPE to produce bags. Just a very small mixing ratio, ordinary plastic bags will become environmentally friendly biodegradable plastic bags.
This sounds great, but there are mixed opinions about the eco-friendly bags produced by this method. Even in 2014, some members of the European Parliament proposed a complete ban on oxo-degradable plastics in the EU, with growing doubts about their real benefits. Although that proposal was rejected, it has also led to more detailed studies of biodegradable plastics. Experiments point to the possibility that they cannot decompose effectively in environments lacking oxygen and light, such as in landfills. In the oceans, water is often too cold to break down such substances, and these oxo-biodegradable products can float on the saea, just like regular plastic waste. The worst-case scenario is when they do not decompose completely but break into smaller pieces of plastic, which can be very harmful to marine species when swallowed.
However, it cannot be denied that, for plastic bags that are accidentally thrown into the environment, this biodegradable technology offers a low-cost solution to make them decompose faster more than ordinary plastic bags. The above biodegradable plastic additives are a commercially available solution that allows manufacturers to create an eco-friendly version of all their plastic product lines easily. They don't even need to change their production infrastructure, redesign their products, or have a significant impact on their bottom line, because the required mix ratios are often very low.