Plastic production comes at a high environmental and economic cost, yet it is still very cheap –and subsidized – in comparison with the alternatives. One of the results is the wide-spread use of single-use products, most of them made of plastic. Plastic bags are the best example of this practice.
From the design point of view it is quite stupid to use one of the most durable materials to produce the shortest lived products.
There is one thing we cannot deny and that’s the fact that people have been pretty careless in the use of conventional plastics around the world, endangering the natural environment around us. From plastics in landfills to the great pacific garbage patch, there are a number of ways we are actively destroying our environment and we often ignore the facts.
Biodegradable & Compostable Plastics
Products that come from nature, whether from plant, animals or minerals, will eventually return to their natural state, unlike man-made or synthetic products which will not. These will not degrade and will fill just litter the earth for centuries to come.
It is a good thing there is now a growing awareness to address this problem. Who would want to wake up in a world where trash outnumbered the people? The shift to eco-friendly products is not an easy one, and there is even a debate on the products that should be labeled as recyclable or not.
The future of the bioplastic industry is geared towards the use of organic materials that decomposes naturally. The resulting compost can now be used as an ideal soil conditioner thus eliminating the use of chemical fertilizers.
The most common applications of ecological products are in the manufacturing of tableware such as plates, bowls, cups and cutlery. To make sure that these products comply with the strictest compliance, you might want to check for the Biodegradable Product Institute or BPI logo. Nowadays bags , tableware can be made from corn resin and sugarcane pulp.
One can wonder why we don’t have a target of recycling 90 or 95% of the plastics when we know that they are all potentially recyclable but truth is that the different kinds of plastics and the many additives and toxics used make plastic recycling or composting difficult. Some ways to address this confusion can be:
– Restrict the use the real biodegradable plastics for the purpose of food packaging so that they can be collected with the organic waste and properly composted,
– Ensure quality recycling for the non-biodegradable plastics and promote design-for-recycling and not design-for-the-dump approach,
– Ban the use of oxo degradable plastics which only endanger recycling and composting.