Some bioplastics are made from corn and sugarcane such as:
- PLA: polylactic acids, often used for food packaging
- PHA: polyhydroxyalkanoates, found in some medical devices and used to make cardiovascular patches
Advantages of Bioplastics
Bioplastic can help us reduce the use of petroleum and it is derived from renewable resources. The plants can be grown all over the world and it can improve the economies of many poor countries.
Once it is discarded, it releases fewer carbons into the atmosphere than petroleum-based plastics. It is carbon neutral.
Using corn and sugarcane for bioplastics reduces agricultural resources that could be used to grow food.
Fertilizers used to grow corn and sugarcane create a considerable amount of pollution. This lead to an increased eutrophication (a process that removes oxygen from waterways) negatively impacting plant and marine, human health, and eco-toxicity.
Bioplastics are sent to landfills or delivered to industrial recycling facilities, where intense heat is used to break it down. It can take decades to break down and it could leak from the landfill into oceans .
There are 150 composting facilities in the United States and only 25% accept bioplastic waste. Many of these industrial recycling facilities do not provide the intense heat necessary for a long enough time to break down the plastic for recycling purposes.
Bioplastic eating utensils are often not tossed in the appropriate recycling bins and end up in landfills.
Bioplastics could end up being a new type of greenwashing.
- This article is clearly against bioplastics.
- Most of these arguments could be applied against fossil-plastic and/or the plastic recycling industry.
- The “food vs fuel” debate and the use fertilizers is linked to the first generation feedstock. In the meantime, we’re developing the second (biomass and waste) and the third generation (algae and seaweed).
- The author forgets to mention that the fossil plastic industry is not clean: look at the environmental impact of oil extraction and refinery.
- Bioplastic Feedstock 1st, 2nd and 3rd Generations
- Bioplastics Events and Conferences 2019
- The Plastic Recycling Fairy Tale