Discussion on Bioplastics

Posted on March 2, 2012 by DrRossH in BioPlastics

The following discussion was on a LinkedIn biodegradable plastics group.  The question was;

We are looking at Biobased products made from renewable resources. The Products are of Injection Mold & should have atleast 12-14 years life. Any Suggestions?

Reply from Teresa Clark at ENSO;  The question is “Why are you looking for renewable sourced materials?” This will help identify the appropriate product line. Many people look for renewable products under the farse that they are more sustainable. This is more often than not completely false. Many renewable materials are more damaging on the environment that traditional plastics. Some are produced more sustainably that petro-plastics, but you have to look closely if that is the result you are looking for.

Reply from Mr Steven Prindle;  As Americans we are now facing our 4th petroleum war in 2 decades. An economy based on petroleum tends to be an economy based on war. If you look back through history agricultural economies have a strong tendency to be peaceful societies. If we don’t change the way we do business we will be facing war #5 and #6 etc…….! Petroleum plastics will ALWAYS have great benefit for our society but we should not put all of our eggs in one basket. The day is here when “green” technology and “black (petro)” technology are merging. Each has a place and the challenge is finding best place applications. The two can and should co-exist and even enhance each other. There is no “one better than the other” rather a need to develop both to their fullest potential for the benefit of our society and the global community

Reply from Plastic Waste Solutions;   To further add to what Teresa says, all her production side points are valid, but the disposal side problems for bioplastics are a big problem too. They need to be commercially composted to biodegrade and those facilities do not exist at the consumer level. There is no separate collection for compostables so consumers have to put them in the bin. They can’t be recycled in main stream recycling so they have to go to the bin. They have a #7 on them which is ‘other plastics’ so even the recycling facility can’t tell them apart and so they go to the bin.
For composting to work the compostable plastic manufacturers are going to have to pay for the set up of the infrastructure to get the plastic waste back from their products, back to a commercial composting facility. This is a huge expense and until it is made, it appears bioplastics are being sold under over hyped green washing.
Steven’s points are equally valid, and death of one soldier over a barrel of oil is too much, or the crippling of an economy for its unnecessary oil dependency is too high of a cost to pay. Consider if a real effort was made to recover 90% of plastic (instead of 90% wasted to a landfill) and recycle it then the oil demand for plastic would drop off enormously. Yes it is expensive to set this infrastructure up too, but so is a war and people wouldn’t be killed.