Friday, September 10, 2010

Bioplastic? Where does it go?

Should I recycle it? Should I just throw it away? Send it to the compost site? Perhaps just bury it in my back yard? There's some buzz in the plastic packaging world about Bioplastics, PLA and the such. It's this new material that's made from renewable resources such as sugar, starch (potato, pea and corn), lactic acid, among other things. The real benefit, as far as I'm concerned is that it's made from renewable sources and cuts out the fossil fuels. It also decomposes….that's a good one. From the marketing standpoint, put biodegradable on the label and you've got gold! Let's face it, everyone's marketing Green these days and that can mean many things. Lighter weight packaging, biodegradable packaging, packaging that collapses to use less space in the landfill but I digress. There's a lot of question as to what the consumer is supposed to do when they need to dispose of this container made from bioplastic. Because it is so closely resembles plastic, they may be tempted to throw it in the recycling bin. Perhaps, because it claims to be biodegradable, some may think if they don't have their own compost bin, they should just throw it in the trash bin. Because there are so many different kinds of bioplastics, made from different materials, perhaps even blended with regular plastic (commonly Polypropylene) the rate of compost varies and can have very different results. There will need to be a new system for disposing this new animal. The consumer has made giant steps in the way they dispose of their waste. They sort their recycling, make trips to the compost site and litter is scarce. Humans can adapt, however until the systems are put into place, a helpful instructional label should suffice.

Here is one very helpful site