Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Biodegradable Plastics? (Welcome to Oxymoronville)

Think "Jumbo Shrimp!" or "Military Intelligence"...then consider biodegradable plastics. At this point, it's largely a green-washing feel-good factor, to get the gnarly corn compounds to biodegrade, they have to be mulched under tightly-controlled conditions...the same conditions under which proper bio-degradation of green waste must take place. In a word, they wont break down in a basic landfill - or your yard - any sooner than non-biodegradable plastics would.

It is, however, a start. :) Anyone that understands the degree to which we over-produce corn in this country (google "monoculture of corn"), it serves as another way to dispense with that gov't-subsidized over-production...ya think?

Some municipalities (San Diego, among others) are conducting pilot programs to test the viability of large-scale composting of corn-plastics - but think of the logistics...and of how many real plastic forks end up being tossed into the mulch pile...and come out w/o degrading. Just figuring out which plastic containers are currently accepted for recycle is already too complicated for many of us with good intentions, as the acceptance of those "acceptable" plastics vary from region to region.

That's just "one reporters opinion" - you are free to form your own - take time to read these two articles: one pondering the fine points of bio-plastics and another Mother Jones article about Ramani Narayan, a Michigan State professor of chemical and biochemical engineering who helped develop biodegradable corn-based plastic.