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January 23, 2009

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Nice post. Thank you! Appreciate the time you took to slice-and-dice the pros and cons, and track down research to help us make better choices. Very useful!

Good to know. I hate greenwashing!

What about the disposable paper products labeled "compostable"? Has anyone had success composting them in a residential pile?

I didn't realize the corn products couldn't go in a compost bin. It seems that the more we try to control every aspect of our waste, the more work and confusion we create for ourselves.

Lately, when I've been thinking about issues such as this, I continually return to pondering how, of the three R's, "Reduce" is really the most valuable in our everyday thinking.

Too bad we haven't figured out a profitable way to market that yet. Or even better, too bad we haven't figured out, as a society, that being profitable isn't the most "valuable" part of life.

There are a lot of problems with PLA - If we made all of the plastic disposable items used in the world every year out of PLA, it would take one hundred million tons of corn to make it. That would lead to mass starvation in the third world, as that represents at least 10% of the world's grain supply. Also, in landfills, PLA exudes methane when it decomposes-and methane is a potent greenhouse gas. It also takes a huge amount of diesel to grow, fertilize, ship, and process this corn. As a practical matter, it is also not recyclable. The alternative? Oxo-biodegradable plastics. See biogreenproducts.biz for full information. -Tim Dunn

Most of the commercial compost facilities only accept yard waste. And oxo-biodegration would be of no consequence if material is landfilled but could benefit in the backyard compost scenario.

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