Going with Biodegradable Plastics Might Not be So Green After All

You may take it for granted that biodegradable plastics are the green choice, the right choice, for people who want to lower their negative impact on the earth.

However, there are some aspects of biodegradable plastics that might make you rethink that whole green solution thing.  Here are some thoughts from packagingeurope.com.

The point of choosing this article for today’s iPonder is this, the law of unintended consequences is brought to bear, even in situations in which it seems obvious that one choice might be the best choice.

Not allowing yourself to be seduced by the easy choice, continuing to examine what you can about all the ramifications of the choice you have made will help prevent you from being limited by your own safe assumptions.

Let me add this final point. If you can come up with reasons why biodegradable plastics might not always be the best green choice, even though it might seem pretty obvious to most that it should be, how do you think a small group of people can assume to understand how the choices they make, through writing laws and regulations, that affect millions of people and even more moving parts in a complex system, might have unintended consequences that could produce the very opposite result than what they thought would be produced from those choices?

The answer is obvious.  They can’t.

Are biodegradable plastics better for the environment?

It may seem obvious that selecting a bioplastic is the most sustainable option. However, although there is a clear benefit from not depleting a non-renewable source, we need to consider that many petrochemicals are a by-product of the oil refining process. While we still live in an economy that is so heavily reliant on oil, it may be better to make use of its by-products rather than let them go to waste.

Bio-plastics are not free of environmental impact, and the carbon emissions associated with growing crops and converting these into the required chemicals needs to be taken into account.

“Compostable” and “biodegradable” are more or less synonymous terms and mean that the material will completely break down under certain conditions. The key to understanding any potential benefit is to know whether the polymer will easily break down, say in your home compost, or if it has to be treated in an industrial composting facility.

Many plastics that are described as biodegradable or compostable have to be collected and separated from the rest of the plastic waste and be sent to a purpose-designed industrial composting facility where they can be broken down successfully. These facilities exist for food waste, but ensuring compostable packaging reaches them can be challenging.

Read More at packagingeurope.com
About Paul Gordon 3009 Articles
Paul Gordon is the publisher and editor of iState.TV. He has published and edited newspapers, poetry magazines and online weekly magazines. He is the director of Social Cognito, an SEO/Web Marketing Company. You can reach Paul at pg@istate.tv