dimanche 11 octobre 2009

Is New Biodegradable Plastic the Answer?

ENSO bottles claims that their bottles are "biodegradable in both landfill and compost environments and can also be successfully mixed with standard PET plastic recycling." How is that possible?

The Risks of Degradable Plastic

1) Increased consumption: Consumers will use more disposable plastics. This means more resources -- whether petroleum or corn or other raw material for the plastic as well as energy and water and more -- go into making single-use throw-away goods.

2) Greenhouse gas balance: much of the carbon in the biodegradable plastics will be emitted as CO2, or worse, as methane (which has a much stronger greenhouse effect than CO2). Is freeing up landfill space really worth releasing all that formerly petroleum-bound carbon into our warming atmosphere?

3) Toxicity of breakdown products: because polymers start out as long chains, it is very important to ensure that none of the smaller pieces that occur as part of being broken down by microbes are toxic in their own right. ENSO has done testing and reports that all steps on the breakdown chain have no negative impacts on the environment. But in the race to get new plastics to the market, testing and caution must be the rule.

So is Biodegradable Plastic Good or Bad?

Biodegradable plastics are just one more tool in the waste management box. Particularly for hard-to-recycle plastic wastes, such as when plastic is bonded to other materials to provide a grease or liquid barrier, these new plastics are a bonus. The entire container can be designed to biodegrade and become a managable waste rather than a straight-to-landfill item. But accepting biodegradable plastic as a silver bullet is premature.

1 commentaire:

Max @ENSO a dit…

ENSO is an environmental company that decided something needed to be done about plastic bottle pollution.
There is growing sentiment against water bottles, but banning water bottles isn’t going to solve the problem all by itself. Plastic is being used to make containers for everything from soft drinks to hand sanitizer. Banning all plastic containers didn’t seem like a realistic approach or something that would ever happen. We feel that every type of plastic container, not just water bottles, should be looked at to determine how they are manufactured, used, reused, recycled and reclaimed. Producers of products need to take a “Cradle to Cradle” approach for the products/packaging they manufacture.
Our initial goal was to find a better solution to the water bottle problem, keeping in mind that soft drinks, teas, power drinks, etc., use the same kind of PET plastic for their bottles. Our solution is the ENSO Biodegradable plastic bottle. ENSO along with Bio-Tec designed the first truly biodegradable PET plastic bottle. The ENSO biodegradable plastic bottle with EcoPure will biodegrade in an anaerobic or aerobic environment leaving behind biogases and humus.
The logo for our company is an “ENSO”, a complete circle, representing the circle of life. We feel that an important aspect of a product is to look at its life cycle and how it is made, used, reused, recycled and reclaimed. We realized that there wasn’t going to be any one product that would magically save us and the environment, however, we felt that if more products/packaging were designed more cradle to cradle, we would start to see a difference. ENSO bottles are designed to be used, reused (wash between uses), recycled and if they end up in a landfill, biodegrade into biogases. Biogases in a landfill are known as landfill gases (LFG’s). The federal government has mandated that landfills sites capture or burn off LFG’s. Most landfills are known as “Dry Tomb” landfills and are places where we bury our trash to keep it out of site. Dry tomb landfills aren’t very efficient at making and capturing LFG’s but even in the anaerobic environment (no oxygen) of a dry tomb landfill biodegradation is taking place at a slow rate.
A better alternative to the dry tomb landfill is a “Bioreactor landfill”. ENSO actively supports the development of bioreactor landfills which have many benefits over dry tomb landfills such as extended landfill life, enhanced biodegradation, reduced seepage of harmful chemicals, and efficient manufacturing/ capturing of LFG’s. Captured LFG’s are now being used to produce clean energy.
That’s the ENSO concept…make it….use it….reuse it…recycle it…..and once the life cycle of the product is over, reclaim it into something useful. Is the ENSO bottle the final answer to plastic pollution? No, but it is a huge step in the right direction.