EurekAlert! offers eligible public information officers paid access to a reliable news release distribution service. IMAGE: An oxo-biodegradable plastic bag could still hold 5 pounds of groceries without tearing after being submerged in the ocean for 3 years. view more  The ubiquitous plastic bag is handy for transporting groceries and other items home from the store. However, this convenience takes a toll on the environment, with plastic debris littering land and waterways. Manufacturers offer biodegradable or compostable plastic bags, but in many cases, these claims have not been tested in natural environments. Now, researchers report in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology that the bags do not degrade in some environments any faster than regular polyethylene.  According to the European Commission, about 100 billion plastic bags enter the European Union market each year. Many of these are used only once and then thrown away, tossed onto the ground or blown by the wind into lakes or oceans. Aside from being ugly, plastic debris can harm animals and ecosystems. Some bag manufacturers offer plastics that deteriorate through the actions of microorganisms, while others...